Avoiding redundancy

Should circumstances arise where redundancy may be a possibility because fewer employees are needed to perform the work, the first steps the practice should take will be to:

•   reduce overtime to a workable minimum

•   restrict recruitment

•   investigate measures such as short¬time working and/or lay-offs

•   investigate whether there are opportunities for redeployment to other departments

•   explore methods so that cost cuts can be achieved

•   explore whether there are any other options available in order to avoid redundancy.

If redundancies cannot be avoided, the practice will give consideration to terminating agency workers and asking for volunteers. Whilst the aim will be to keep the number of compulsory redundancies to a minimum, the overriding consideration will always be the future needs of the practice.

Consultation and selection

If the need for compulsory redundancies arises, the selection of employees for redundancy should be in full consultation with employees throughout the redundancy selection process. Employees will be notified at the earliest possible opportunity of the reasons for the potential redundancy situation and of the practices proposals.

The practice will carry out consultations over the following time periods:

•   at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 20 to 99 employees are to be made redundant at one establishment over a period of 90 days or less

•   at least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant at one establishment over a period of 90 days or less.

•   as much consultation as is reasonably practicable where fewer than 20 employees are proposed to be made redundant.

During the consultation exercise, full information will be provided to employees and/or their representatives about the practices proposals and there will be adequate opportunity for employees or their representatives to respond.

Information provided may include the:

•   reasons for the proposed redundancies

•   numbers and categories of employees who may be made redundant

•   proposed method of selecting employees for redundancy

•   proposed method of carrying out the redundancies, including the time period over which the dismissals may take effect; and

•   proposed method of calculating redundancy payments.

The practice will also enter into individual consultation with each employee provisionally selected for redundancy. Each employee will have the right to be informed of the basis for their selection and be invited to put forward any representations, which the practice should fully consider before making a final decision on which employees are to be made redundant.

The chosen selection criteria should be fairly and consistently applied and should be capable of being backed up with evidence and/or data.

Voluntary redundancy

If the practice does ask for volunteers for redundancy, invitations will be offered to all employees whose jobs are at risk of redundancy. The opportunity to volunteer for redundancy will be available for a defined period only.

Employees who choose to apply for voluntary redundancy are not guaranteed to have their application accepted. The practice has the absolute discretion to decide whether or not to accept an employee’s application for voluntary redundancy.

Where an employee’s application is provisionally accepted, they will be notified of this in writing. Employees who volunteer and are accepted for redundancy will be entitled to statutory redundancy pay in the same way as employees who are made compulsorily redundant.

Alternative employment

Once provisional redundancy selections have been made, the practice will seek to identify any alternative vacancies that may be suitable.

The practice reserves the right to make the final decision as to whether or not to offer an available alternative position to a redundant employee. However, in accordance with statutory provisions, employees who are provisionally selected for redundancy whilst they are absent on maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave, are entitled to be offered any suitable and appropriate alternative employment within the practice or with an associated employer, in preference to other employees who are also at risk of redundancy.

This is an absolute entitlement and it applies regardless of whether other employees may be stronger candidates or better qualified. The practice is, therefore, bound to take this into account when deciding to whom to offer an available alternative position.

If a decision is made to offer a position, the offer will be made in writing. Where alternative employment is offered and accepted, it should be the practice’s policy to operate a trial period of four weeks in the new post. This is a statutory requirement. If it is established objectively that the post is not suitable for the employee, their employment will be terminated at the end of the trial period and the employee will still receive a statutory redundancy payment based on the date on which their original job ended.

The practice reserves the right to make the final decision on termination of employment. An employee who unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment (whether before, during or after the trial period) may forfeit their right to a statutory redundancy payment.

Redundancy pay

Redundant employees who have a minimum of two years’ continuous employment with the practice will be entitled to be paid statutory redundancy pay, which is calculated according to the employee’s age, length of service and gross weekly pay subject to a statutory maximum.

The practice may also offer an enhanced redundancy payment; but this is paid at the discretion of the practice and there is no contractual right for an employee to receive an enhanced redundancy payment at any time, regardless of whether or not enhanced redundancy payments have been paid to other redundant employees on previous occasions. 

For further support with this or any other HR issue, BVNA members can call the BVNA IRS Helpline on 01822 870270


Nicky Ackerley BA (Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising .HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA Members Advisory Service (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Service) since it began in 2002.

• VOL 29 • January 2014 • Veterinary Nursing Journal