Disciplinary procedures and redundancies


Date: 10 July 2009

The new 2009 Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary issues says that it does not apply to redundancies, but Acas has updated its guidance on redundancy handling. Check out what businesses are doing to make sure redundancies are handled fairly.

Where a redundancy takes place entirely after 5 April 2009, you must now follow fair procedures, taking into account rules established by the courts over the decades, if you want to avoid claims that the redundancy amounted to unfair dismissal.

This means that you must:

  • Identify a reasonable ‘pool for selection’, ie the group of employees from whom the employees selected for redundancy will be chosen.
  • Adopt objective selection criteria and apply them fairly to the employees within this pool.
  • Warn and consult employees about the potential redundancy situation.
  • Seek a view from the union (if any).
  • Inform and consult employee representatives in cases of collective redundancy (20 or more proposed redundancies at one establishment within a 90 day period), and notify the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (formerly BERR and, before that, the DTI).
  • Allow employees to be accompanied at consultation meetings.
  • Consider alternative employment for those employees whose roles are redundant.
  • Give reasonable paid time off to look for work or make arrangements for training for future employment.
  • Give redundant employees a right of appeal.

If you have your own company policy, and you are satisfied it is fair, it must be followed. The Acas guidance Redundancy Handling has been updated to help you. It reassures employers that the new procedure to be followed is similar to that under the recently abolished statutory disciplinary procedures. Many businesses are reviewing their redundancy policies, or introducing one, to take account of the new rules and the general requirement for fairness.

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