One of the biggest rail strikes in 30 years has unfolded in recent weeks as 40,000 workers protested the threat of job cuts. His employer, Network Rail, is looking to lay off 1,800 people as it prepares to introduce new technologies in an effort to save more than £100 million a year in the aftermath of a post-pandemic drop in passenger numbers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has claimed the industrial action would result in a loss of around £150 million, as well as £450 million in damages to the UK-wide economy. With such significant costs expected, not to mention the ongoing impact on individual passengers, the government called on the parties involved – rail operators and unions representing workers – to agree a settlement through negotiations. has done.
We already saw the impact of the company taking matters into its own hands earlier this year when P&O Ferries fired 800 employees without notice as it tried to save. As of now, the Management of Network Rail is following the process of consultation with the affected employees. According to news reports, it has offered voluntary redundancies in an effort to limit the impact of its plans for modernization, to which more than 5,000 workers have applied so far.
Unfortunately, redundancies are a fact of life for businesses, especially in tough times like the current economic environment. In such circumstances, businesses often choose to do redundancies to create a more sustainable future for the company as a whole. And while furloughing employees is an unpleasant experience for all parties involved, the effect is, of course, most significant for employees who are losing their jobs. So companies must find a way to implement redundancy with compassion, providing clear communication for all employees during the process, as well as offering ongoing tools and support to employees who lose their jobs and who remain live.
So what should you expect? Employees at risk of redundancy are entitled to a fair redundancy process under the Employee Rights Act 1996, which includes the right to meaningful counseling. According to the UK Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), this should provide an opportunity to discuss the changes and why some employees are at risk of redundancy. If employees meet specific criteria, such as being employed for a certain amount of time (usually a minimum of two years), they are also entitled to statutory redundancy pay. However, it is important to also examine specific employment contracts and company policy on redundancy pay.
Going beyond basic entitlements, according to my research, redundancy programs can be implemented more smoothly when employees understand the business justification for the position. Business leaders must provide a clear understanding of why redundancies are being made. For example, Network Rail has discussed its plan to save by implementing drone-like technology for site inspections and driving the automation of ticket sales.
To ensure that consultations are useful and beneficial, employers must also be able to clearly demonstrate to unions and their members how they have attempted to save costs through means other than redundancies. This may include reducing or selling unused assets or saving on purchase costs, for example. All reasonable redundancy options should be considered, such as possible redeployment of employees at risk of redundancy.
Once it is decided that redundancies are to be done, however, a company must be prepared and able to explain how employees were selected and why certain parts of the business were affected. Overall, employees and unions should be given a clear plan for individual and group consultations with anticipated deadlines and effective communication channels. This will show all affected employees that all decisions surrounding the redundancy program were carefully considered.
For employees who are at risk of redundancy, additional services should be provided to help adjust to life after redundancy. This can include support from the company, as well as services from outside providers for up to three months after redundancy. examples include:
Retraining: Redundancy can be avoided where possible through retraining by retraining employees to fulfill alternative, available and suitable roles. It depends on the requirements of the role and proper ability to transfer skills.
Counseling: Loss of income is extremely stressful, causing anxiety and financial worries. Organizations must get the support they need to support the mental health of employees by providing free counseling and access to one-to-one support.
Transition: Employers can also provide optional support such as workshops on financial planning and guidance, or how to start a business.
support other employees
A more compassionate redundancy process should also consider employees who remain with the organization. During my research, I found that the way organizations deal with employees who lose their jobs can have a significant impact on employees who remain in the organization. They may feel guilty or angry at seeing coworkers lose their jobs, as well as experience a constant fear of job insecurity if more job losses are expected.
Management employees also benefit from treating all employees with compassion, fairness, and respect during redundancies who must implement the redundancy process. Again, extensive communication – not only with the union, but with the employees themselves – helps companies conduct the process with compassion. The remaining employees must understand the future vision and mission of the organization. Other ways to increase employee morale include investing in training and development, as well as recognizing job-related progress or achievements.
Redundancy cannot always be avoided, but the negative impact can certainly be limited to those who lose their jobs, as well as those who remain. And when unions work with management to ease the pain of redundancy, employees can at least leave the organization more equipped for the future.