Selecting Employees for Redundancy Because They are Parents

Published February 09 2021

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A recent survey has revealed that some employees may be being unlawfully selected for redundancy because they are parents or are planning on starting a family. Whilst times are difficult for many employers and some may find themselves needing to make decisions regarding redundancies at speed and whilst under pressure, it’s still important to ensure that redundancy decisions are fair and non-discriminatory.

When it comes to making redundancies it’s important to bear in mind that employers will usually need to:

  • Have what in law is considered a genuine redundancy situation such as a business closure or a reduced need for employees to do certain jobs.

Whilst employers can sometimes be tempted to try to use ‘redundancy’ as a way of dealing with another issue, perhaps because it’s viewed as a quicker or kinder route, dismissing employees for redundancy where there is not a genuine redundancy situation can lead to employment tribunal claims such as unfair dismissal. It’s important to bear in mind that where the real reason for the dismissal is a prohibited one,  such as where a woman is dismissed because she is pregnant, or someone is dismissed because they took family leave or dependent care leave, the dismissal could be automatically unfair and/or discriminatory.

  • Identify an appropriate selection pool – this is the group of employees that are at risk of being made redundant. Depending on the business reasons, an employer may be proposing to make all of those in the pool redundant, or only some of them.
  • Fairly select who will be retained from the selection pool, unless the employer is proposing to make all employees in the selection pool redundant. Selection is often done using a skills matrix, this involves an employer identifying selection criteria and scoring employees on their performance in these areas. It’s important to ensure that appropriate criteria are used and that scoring is carried out fairly. Some criteria can be problematic, for example in relation to parents, ‘attendance’ as a criterion can potentially penalise employees who have taken family leave, so it’s always important to get advice on your situation from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.
  • Look for alternative employment – a failure to do so can make a redundancy dismissal unfair. There are also some situations where additional rules can apply if there is alternative employment, so it’s important for employers to seek advice.
  • Warn and meaningfully consult employees who may be affected by the proposed redundancies before any decision to dismiss is made. Employers shouldn’t forget about employees who may be away from the business, for example because they are on maternity or adoption leave.
  • It’s important to bear in mind that if an employer is proposing to make 20 or more redundancies within a 90-day period there are additional collective consultation obligations that will need to be met.

Redundancy can be a difficult area for employers, so if at any point you are considering making redundancies in your organisation you should seek advice from Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd on your circumstances before taking action.

If you would like assistance with any employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.