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Step 2 - Consultation and Communication

The importance of consultation

2.2.1 It is important to conduct meaningful consultation to give employees and where appropriate their trade unions or other employee representatives the opportunity to input into the change and engage in the process, to ensure it is fully informed and to consider possible alternative solutions.   The purpose of consultation is to provide an opportunity to discuss the change in question and explore the options.  It can also encourage and stimulate better co-operation between managers and employees, reduce uncertainty and lead to better decision making. Consultation is particularly important where significant change is being considered and it is good practice to engage with the trade unions or other employee representatives at an early stage to discuss ways of avoiding redundancies.

2.2.2 It is also important for managers to note that during this period of uncertainty for employees, effective two-way consultation and communication with staff and unions is critical to the future success of the change process and should be conducted with sensitivity. Further guidance on effective communication and supporting staff through change is provided in the Implementation of Change section.

Employees on leave

2.2.3 It is important to remember to include any employees on maternity, shared parental or paternity leave, career breaks, sabbatical, secondments, long term sick leave (and any other form of leave) in any consultation discussion.  This may be done by either allowing them to participate in any group meetings in person or by telephone or by updating them after such meetings.  This should be followed up in writing and they should be allowed to make written representations if they wish.  It may also be necessary to hold individual consultation meetings and HR can advise further on this matter.

Early staff briefings

2.2.4 An early staff briefing should be given to advise staff collectively of the potential need to undertake change. This initial briefing might cover:

  • the reasons for the review (where appropriate)
  • who the key stakeholders are
  • the anticipated process for the organisational change, including further meetings
  • warning employees of potential redundancies (where applicable)
  • the type of support that will be available for staff, including redeployment and career transition support and involvement of employees’ recognised representatives
  • broad timescales and suggestions for receiving stakeholder feedback.

Collective Consultation

2.2.5 Whilst is it the University’s Policy to provide a minimum of 30 days consultation to employees affected by change and any representatives, there are additional legal requirements if it is proposed that 20 or more employees are to be made redundant within any 90-day period, as noted in section 3.1.7 of the Policy. Please note that this may apply not only where a redundancy situation arises but where it is proposed that 20 or more employees are to be dismissed within a 90 day period for reasons not related to the individuals concerned, and could therefore apply to other types of organisational change.

2.2.6 The key elements when consulting collectively are as follows.  Please speak to HR for further details:

  1. Informing and consulting with appropriate representatives of affected employees
  2. Providing the necessary information in writing to employee representatives.  This information is included in the information set out in section 3.2.4 of the Policy.  The information provided should be sufficient so as to enable meaningful consultation to take place and employee representatives should be given adequate time to respond
  3. Consulting with employee representatives, specifically on ways of avoiding the dismissals, reducing the numbers of employees to be dismissed and mitigating the consequences of dismissals.  Consultation must be entered into with an open mind
  4. Notifying the Secretary of State at the start of consultation by filling in form HR1. The deadline for its submission depends on the number of proposed redundancies and your HR School Team can complete this on the institutions behalf.

Individual consultation meetings

2.2.7 Employees in scope of the proposed change should be invited to attend individual consultation meetings at which the employee may be accompanied by either a trade union representative or a colleague who is an employee of the University. The purpose of the consultation is to:

  • discuss the business reasons for the proposed change (ideally providing a copy of the business case or consultation document)
  • discuss how the individual may be affected
  • provide an opportunity for the employee to comment on the basis for selection, in terms of the pool and selection criteria, and their scores
  • provide an opportunity for the employee to challenge their redundancy selection
  • provide an opportunity for the employee to put forward any suggestions, specifically for ways to avoid their redundancy
  • consider any alternative employment positions that may exist and career transition services available
  • provide redundancy calculations as appropriate
  • answer questions, listen and consider ideas and options
  • explain the next steps in the process.

2.2.8 Typically at least two individual consultation meetings will be held with each individual, although it may be appropriate to hold more depending upon the nature, size and impact of the change. Careful consideration should be given to any issues raised by the employee.  Employees may be accompanied to individual consultation meetings by either a trade union representative or a colleague who is an employee of the University.

2.2.9 It is recommended that the start and end date of the formal consultation period is confirmed in writing to employees. It may also be helpful to keep a record of what is discussed at each consultation meeting so that all parties are clear of any information shared, agreed actions and next steps. This could be checked and signed by the manager and employee.

Supporting individuals at risk of redundancy

2.2.10 Individuals at potential risk of redundancy should be advised of the support available, as detailed below:

Support in seeking redeployment

2.2.11 Support in seeking redeployment within the University is available to all employees who have been placed at risk of redundancy. Employees who wish to receive support will be provided with advice and assistance in preparing job applications, updating CVs, writing cover letters and interview preparation. Employees will be given the address of the University's job opportunities website where all vacancies are advertised. A weekly list of current vacancies can be sent to those employees without access to a computer. A summary of the individual's skills, experience and the type of role sought can also be sent to the relevant Administrators of other Departments to be matched with any vacancies that may arise. An individual under notice of redundancy will continue to be subject to the University's redeployment provisions until his/her employment ends. The University will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that internal vacancies are made available to potentially redundant employees.

2.2.12 Please note that if suitable alternative employment is offered to an employee at risk of redundancy as an alternative to compulsory redundancy and the employee unreasonably refuses the position, they may no longer be entitled to statutory redundancy pay. Please also note that the requirement for a Certificate of Sponsorship to be employed in the UK and the need to satisfy Border and Immigration requirements will still apply.

Career transition support

2.2.13 In addition to redeployment support (above) employees placed at risk of redundancy due to organisational change, as defined under section 1.3 of the Policy, can access expert, confidential and impartial career transition support to assist them in successfully securing alternative employment. The service aims to provide employees with the tools, resources and confidence to conduct an effective job search and/or to consider new career options such as exploring interim work, self-employment, setting up a consultancy, re-training or preparing for semi or full retirement.

2.2.14 Employees placed at risk of redundancy will receive a confidential referral to a personal career coach for an initial face to face meeting, after which they can tailor their own individual support package to meet their particular needs. This may include further one to one coaching sessions, attending training days run locally, CV drafting support, presentation/interview techniques, psychometrics and access to specialist research and job search databases. Employees will also receive access to on line careers tools and a confidential telephone counselling service. Full details can be provided by the relevant HR School Team.

Access to training

2.2.15 Employees who need to bridge skills gaps will be allowed to attend free internal training offered by Personal and Professional Development, the University Information Services or the Finance Division once they have been notified that they are at risk of redundancy.

Next Step

Step 3 - Implementation Preparation