Handling redundancy is challenging for any employer, but preferential treatment when making staff redundant is an issue that can result in claims of discrimination or unfair dismissal.
Your reasons for making redundancies, deciding which jobs should be in the selection pool, and then selecting the individuals to be made redundant are particular areas for concern. So how do you make sure you don’t unwittingly treat some employees preferentially in this situation?
Your redundancy criteria need to be objective, fair and lawful - they might include:
Examples of unfair/unlawful criteria used in redundancy include, but are not limited to:
It should be noted that, in some circumstances, preferential treatment is permitted. Employees on maternity leave, for example, are entitled to preferential treatment if an alternative role is available within the company - it must be offered to the person on maternity leave first, even if other members of staff are more qualified for the position.
Be aware of employment law
Ensure the individuals in charge of the redundancy selection process understand all the legal aspects, and are aware of the role of individuals earmarked for redundancy within the workplace.
Failing to take account of an employee’s disability or to make reasonable adjustments to redundancy procedures with regard to a disabled employee, for instance, could be regarded as preferential treatment towards other members of staff.
Setting selection criteria for the redundancy pool is a stage that requires careful consideration, and it’s advisable to choose a number of different criteria rather than relying on a single one.
These criteria should be transparent, consistently applied, and evidence-based, so they’re objective and measurable if you’re called upon to explain or defend them later on.
If you have a trade union they can offer valuable guidance and help you avoid preferential treatment during the redundancy process. Making a redundancy plan in consultation with trade union representatives may provide more confidence for all parties that your procedures are fair and lawful.
Staff on maternity leave must be informed of your plans for redundancy, and consulted at the same time as employees in the workplace. Failing to do so could be deemed preferential to other staff members, discriminatory and unfair.
If you need to make staff redundant and would like more information on how to avoid preferential treatment, our experts at Redundancy Claims UK can help. We’ll ensure you understand your legal obligations in the process, and that you undertake fair and transparent procedures. Call one of our expert team for a free same-day consultation. RCUK are Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Authorisation No 830522. You can check our registration here.