redundancy, fairwork, employment law

Redundancy the easy way

by Gabi Anderson Courtney

There is no way to make redundancy a pleasant experience for anyone, but sometimes a business is forced to take this road. On occasions it could be to preserve its own existence, to save cost, or a particular job is simply not useful for the business anymore.

If you are thinking about making someone redundant, and it is not about the money, take a look if you would be able to use them anywhere else in the business. If the answer is no, it’s time to move forward with the redundancy plan.

Let me make one thing very clear; if you make someone redundant, you will not be able to hire someone else to do the same job. It is not a way to get rid of unwanted employees. It doesn’t matter if you rename the position, or alter it slightly, if you hire someone else who in majority does the same tasks than the person you have made redundant, you can be fined and in serious cases, you can be sued.

If you are not happy with someone’s performance, behaviour, or any other aspects of their work, there are other avenues, but procedure must be followed.

So what do you have to do to make someone redundant? You need to make it official and advise the person in writing. The best way is to draft up a letter and hand it to them in person. An explanation is always nice, and while you don’t have to go into details, it’s fair for anyone to know why they were made redundant. I recommend to stress that this does not relate to the person’s work performance and it is simply a business decision. A lot of people find their self-esteem plummets after being made redundant and it will certainly be easier on them if they know that it is not related to their work.

If you have any way to help them find another job, it will be highly appreciated. Let it be by making a call to someone you aware is looking for similar talent, by offering to be a referee, or by providing a letter of recommendation.

The law is very clear on what you need to pay someone when made redundant, and while it can get complicated and it has various components, you can find all the information on the FairWork website, or contact me for more information.

Be ready for some people to get emotional. This is not easy for anyone and the only thing you can do is assure them that you came to this decision as a last resort, and that they will be paid all their entitlements. Ask them to concentrate on the handover, and try to keep them busy in their notice period; it will help with their self-esteem and they won’t have time to dwell on too many negative thoughts.

Organizing a goodbye get-together is optional, but I only recommend it if they are leaving on good terms and understand why you had to make this decision.

On occasion, people can get too emotional and if you think they might cause some damage while serving out their notice period, you can chose to simply pay them for this time without having to attend at work. If you think that someone might not behave in a professional matter towards clients, colleagues, or yourself, not requiring them to work out their notice period might be a better option. It would also give them additional time to start looking for a new job.

In the end, it’s never a pleasant situation when you are making someone redundant, but you need to keep the bigger picture in mind, and at the same time, allow the person to move on and find a position where their expertise if is in need.