ACAS has issued guidance on how best to handle redundancy situations.
The guidance reiterates the well-established steps for a redundancy process to be fair such as early and full consultation, the application of objective selection criteria and the duty to consider suitable alternative roles for affected individuals. It also addresses another area which does not usually receive much attention; namely the responsibilities of the managers charged with informing their employees that they may lose their jobs.

The guidance advises that such managers, referred to as “tellers”, may be the line managers of the affected employees as they will have an existing relationship with them and will understand the background to what is going on. However, a company may feel that an existing relationship will cause unnecessary additional stress for the teller and so wish to appoint someone who does not have day-to-day contact with the employees concerned. Ultimately the selection of the appropriate teller(s) will be a judgment call for the employer.

The guidance advises that, once selected, the teller should be supported by the company as the role can be challenging as well as emotionally draining and research carried out by ACAS revealed that some managers who have assumed a teller position were unprepared for the psychological effect it would have on them. The guidance recommends that tellers should be kept fully informed by the company about the business rationale for redundancies so that they can communicate this to affected employees and respond to any queries appropriately. Tellers should also receive ongoing support and training, which may take place as part of HR and/or management training programmes, so that they are sufficiently equipped and confident to engage in what are likely to be challenging discussions with their staff.

The guidance also recommends that employers should also consider the day-to-day workload of the teller and ensure that their new additional responsibilities, which can sometimes take several months, to ensure that the teller does not become overworked.

The full version of the latest ACAS guidance can be found on the ACAS website.