Redundancy and Furlough Leave
If a company finds itself in the position of implementing a redundancy programme during or after the furlough period, the usual requirement to demonstrate that there is a genuine redundancy situation and follow a fair process will still apply, but there are additional considerations for employers in this regard. These include:
· The logistical difficulties of consulting with employees remotely. Redundancy consultations will still have to take place individually or collectively, but this will be by means of video or conference call, or in writing.
· It is good practice to give employees the right to be 'accompanied' to the redundancy meetings, even if this meeting is carried out remotely. Employers will have to consider how best to enable this.
· If an employer is making 20 or more employees redundant in a 90-day period and collective consultation is triggered, the company must ensure that it consults collectively with Trade Union or staff representatives, and that it meets the 30-day (or 45-day for 100 or more redundancies) deadline for starting consultation. Aside from the long lead-time for the consultation process, there will be practical difficulties in undertaking full consultation with representatives in the current circumstances. In companies where there is no recognised Trade Union or existing staff representatives, an election for staff representatives will have to take place before consultation can begin, further elongating the period of time needed for a full consultation process.
· Employers will have to be particularly careful to ensure that redundancy selection pools and criteria are fair, objective and reasonable and that staff are consulted about them before they are confirmed. In particular, it is unlikely to be fair if employees are automatically selected for redundancy because they were selected to be furloughed.
· In terms of the reason for redundancy, employers will have to consider if selecting an employee for redundancy when he or she could remain on furlough leave may make the resulting redundancy dismissal unfair.