Considerations for a fair and objective outcome. 

Covid-19 is still causing severe disruption to many Irish businesses. Unfortunately, GHR Consulting is dealing with many queries from business owners who are having to make the difficult decision to start the redundancy procedure. The selection process for those employees who will be made redundant needs to be fair and objective. So, what does this process look like in practice?

When selecting a particular employee for redundancy, an employer should apply selection criteria that are reasonable and are applied fairly. Often, employers face the dilemma of having to make a high performing member of staff redundant instead of a poor-performing staff member who has been working in the business for a longer period. While the “last-in-first-out” is often applied by organisations due to its simple application which is based on the commencement date of employee/their length of service, it may result in the organisation losing high-performing employees with the relevant skills for their roles. This method of selection may be relevant as part of a wider range of selection criteria, but it is advised that this should not be used as the sole method and the employer must be able to justify its use.

Employers may wish to also consider the following alternative criteria:

Qualifications/Training: This should involve consideration of qualifications or training relevant to the role being made redundant. Where there are no qualifications or training required or relevant to the role at hand, this criterion should not be used. 

Skills: This refers to the skills required for the role. Employers may also consider the ability of employees to deal with change and learn new skills. The assessment of skills should ensure that the employer has identified the full range of skills that are required for the job role to allow a fair assessment to be taken.

Experience/Specific Relevant Experience: This refers to experience required for the job role, rather than wider organisational experience. Previous experience gained in another job role that is appropriate to the current role may also be assessed.

Performance Standards: Depending on the particular role, performance may include an assessment of certain targets achieved by the employee, or marks from performance reviews or appraisals can be used in the selection process. It is important to ensure that these appraisals have been carried out consistently across all employees in the redundancy pool and the assessment is based on objective measures. Also, where employees have contrasting service or long periods of absence, it’s important to consider a fair time frame over which performance will be assessed.

After selecting the criteria, the employer should consider the employees in the ‘pool’ and carefully rate/score them against each of the criteria using objective data only. The scores should be reviewed with the employee and revised accordingly where there is objective data for doing so. It is important that scores are supported by accurate records.

The employer will be required to consult and inform employees appropriately during the redundancy process. As part of this, the employees should be notified of the criteria matrix used for redundancy, the significant implications of the matrix and provided with the opportunity to examine, query, or object to the matrix.

The golden rule for all employers to follow in the selection process for redundancy: – Is the process fair?

Employees are entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal if they feel they were unfairly selected for redundancy or consider that a genuine redundancy situation did not exist. Examples of these situations might include where the custom and practice in your workplace has been last in, first out and your selection did not follow this procedure. Another example may be where your contract of employment sets out criteria for selection that were not followed.

Under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2015, selection for redundancy based on certain specific grounds is considered unfair. These include redundancy as the result of an employee’s trade union activity, pregnancy, or religious or political opinions. The employment equality legislation also prohibits selection for redundancy that is based on any of the following 9 grounds: gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, religious belief, race, sexual orientation, or membership of the Traveller community.

If you are an employer with queries regarding the selection process for redundancy, please get in touch with us at ruairi@ghrconsulting.ie or visit our website: www.ghrconsulting.ie

Leave a Reply