On the 11th day of Christmas, my employer brought to me – ‘Notice of Redundancy.’

Despite it being day 11 in our series, this is the first day we have sung the 12 days of Christmas.

The topic for today is whether you can make an employee redundant before Christmas. The short answer is yes. It is irrelevant whether it is Christmas Eve, your birthday or the third Tuesday of the month. Perhaps a dire financial forecast requires a swift process to avoid substantial losses, or the employer is just a modern day Ebenezer – the premise for the redundancy and the process followed are always fundamental.

Now a redundancy process, at any time of year will be difficult, but this will be even more so as the Christmas period approaches. If a consultation process starts in the lead up to Christmas, it may make staff feel uneasy worrying if their role will be selected for redundancy or if work friendships will be severed; this could impact on productivity and output. It may also lead employees to question the type of employer who dismisses employees before one of the most costly times of year.

Timing is therefore key, on one hand wrapping up a process before Christmas leaves those safe employees breathing a sigh of relief, but, beware it can also lead to a period of contemplation over Christmas. The employee may consider if the employer is one they want to return to and, for an ex-employee, anger and resentment can boil resulting in the submission of a claim. For these reasons, if a process can wait until the New Year, this would be sensible, but individual circumstances and the needs of the business will drive the process.

It is also important that when making less than 20 employees redundant in a 90 day period that individual consultation takes place. Wherever possible, be as open and honest as to the reasons for the proposed redundancies. Consultation at this level has no set time frame, it is however sensible to permit at least 3 days between meetings to absorb any mitigation and comments afforded. We would also suggest a minimum of 2 meetings.

For those employers looking to make more than 20 employees redundant in a 90 day period, the rules pertaining to collective consultation must be followed. Consultation will last 30 or 45 days and is far more prescriptive.

How a process is handled is as important as the reason for termination. Employees respect an employer who is open and truthful.

If you require any support before or after the festive season, do not hesitate to contact the Employment Team at Sintons.

Come back tomorrow for the final day of our Christmas series which will discuss whether or not an employer is obliged to award a Christmas bonus.

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