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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. How do I determine if the change is considered to be major or minor?

As defined in the Policy, major change would include changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment, including significant changes to the scope and/or nature of individual an individual’s role.  Examples may include relocating services, closing of services, provision of new services or the introduction of new technologies that change the nature of the work.

Minor change would include changes such as variations to the working environment or line management structures which fall within the scope of those permitted under the employee’s contractual terms and conditions.

Q. 2. Is there an ability to adapt the Policy?

The University acknowledges that the nature, size and scope of organisational change can vary considerably, and to support this, it may be necessary to adapt the change process to reflect the circumstances of the proposed change. Discussing how change will be undertaken should form part of consultation.

Q. 3. How can the Policy be adapted?

Institutions may adapt aspects of the Policy to suit individual circumstances, for example implementing a more formal communications plan for large scale change, or altering the selection process for vacancies where only a limited number of employees are in the ‘pool’ for selection. Large scale consultation may require more formality in the planning of meetings (allocation of time slots), whereas for small scale change a more flexible communications approach may be possible. Where changes to the process are being considered advice should be sought from the relevant HR School Team and discussed with employees and their representatives.

Q. 4. When should consultation start?

Consultation must begin in ‘good time’ when the proposals are still at a formative stage, to ensure there is reasonable time for meaningful consultation. Where a potential redundancy situation arises Institutions should start talking to employee representatives as early as possible, even if there is only a provisional decision that might lead to redundancies.

Consultation formally starts when the affected employees and their representatives, where applicable, have been provided with a copy of the business case and/ or consultation paper. Institutions are strongly advised to write to employees to formally confirm the start and end date of the consultation period.

Q. 5. Does consultation apply only in cases where a redundancy situation may occur?

No, consultation should be undertaken where organisational change, as defined under section 1.3 of the Policy, is being considered.

Q. 6. With whom am I required to consult as part of organisational change?

As stated in the Consultation and Communication section of the Policy, consultation should be with the individual employees, as per section 3.19 of the Policy, and either the employee’s trade union representative, or a representative elected by the employees (where the affected group are not represented by a trade union).

Q. 7. How are employee representatives elected?

There is a specific process Institutions need to follow, and once elected employee representatives have certain rights. Please speak to your HR School Team for further advice where the election of employee representatives is required.

Q. 8. What about agency workers, should they be included in the organisational change process?

No, agency workers should not be included in the formal consultation process.

Q. 9. Does an employee have the right to be accompanied at a consultation meeting?

Whilst there is no legal statutory right for an employee to be accompanied at a consultation meeting, as per section 3.2.9 of the Policy, employees may bring either a work place colleague employed by the University or a trade union representative with them. Prior to the consultation meeting the employee should inform the line manager of the name and position of any person who will accompany them.

Q. 10. Can additional meetings after an initial consultation meeting be requested and arranged

Yes. During a consultation period the employer and employee may meet on a number of occasions in order to discuss different aspects relating to the change. Arrangements for such meetings should be made with the individual who conducted the initial consultation meeting.

Q. 11. I have a member of staff who is absent from work, do I need to consult with them?

Yes, as per section 3.2.14 of the Policy, all affected employees should be consulted in relation to organisational changes, especially if the changes proposed put them at risk of redundancy (this includes employees on sick leave, maternity/ adoption or shared parental leave, secondments etc).

Q. 12. When is consultation completed?

Consultation would normally be completed at the end of the consultation period (see Policy section 3.2.17). However, the aim of consultation is to ensure that there is a genuine exchange of views and information in terms of why redundancies are proposed and how they can be avoided. Consultation should last as long as is required to reach agreement, or to explore all available options to avoid redundancies. The formal consultation period may therefore be extended accordingly.

Q. 13. How do I communicate and consult with an employee who is absent from work?

As per section 3.2.14 of the Policy, the lead manager should ask the absent employee how they would prefer to be consulted, for example meeting at a neutral venue, by telephone or in writing. Institutions should try to accommodate reasonable requests. As above, the employee may be accompanied at formal consultation meetings by either a trade union representative or a colleague who is an employee of the University.

Q. 14. I have an employee who is pregnant or on maternity, paternity or statutory parental leave, can they be placed in the pool for selection for redundancy?

Yes, however, if an employee’s maternity, paternity or shared parental leave has commenced, if they are selected for redundancy, the employee is entitled to be offered any available suitable alternative employment, without the need for an application or selection process (even where others at risk of redundancy are more qualified or experienced). See section 4.18 of the Policy.

Q. 15. Is an employee automatically entitled to receive statutory redundancy pay?

No. The employee must have at least 2 years continuous service in order to be eligible to receive a statutory redundancy payment

Q. 16.How is an employee’s statutory redundancy payment calculated?

The amount of redundancy pay will be calculated (up to a maximum of 20 years being reckonable) as:

  • 0.5 week's pay for each full year of service where age during year is less than 22
  • 1 week's pay for each full year of service where age during year is 22 or above, but less than 41
  • 1.5 weeks' pay for each full year of service where age during year is above 41

Subject to a maximum of 20 years reckonable service.

There is a statutory limit on both the value of a week's pay, and the total amount of statutory redundancy pay an employee can receive. The current limits can be found on the website, these are normally reviewed annually.

Please note that assistant staff employed before 1 October 2003 have additional entitlements under the Protection of Employment Code.

Q. 17. What will happen to any holiday an employee has accrued but not taken before their termination date?

Where possible all accrued annual leave should be taken prior to the termination date. Where it is agreed with the employee’s manager that it has not been possible to take all accrued leave prior to the termination date, a payment in lieu of these holiday days would be made. Please note that all annual leave is subject to approval by the employee’s Head of Department or Institution.

Q. 18. What is voluntary redundancy?

Voluntary redundancy is one way to try to reduce or avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. An Institution may invite applications for voluntary redundancy and employees may request to be considered if they so wish. The Institution will consider all the requests and decide which, if any, can be accepted.

Q. 19. Is an Institution obliged to agree to a request for voluntary redundancy?

No, an Institution can reserve the right to refuse applications. An institution may wish to reject applications from employees in certain key roles, to retain a balanced, skilled workforce, or in the event that more applications are received than are required. When asking for volunteers for redundancy employees should be informed that applications may be rejected.

Q. 20. Is a voluntary redundancy a resignation?

No, voluntary redundancy is not a resignation. Where an institution invites volunteers for redundancy and an individual volunteers, they are volunteering to be dismissed by reason of redundancy and are not resigning. They will be entitled to receive a redundancy payment.

Q. 21. Can an Institution match employees into roles?

Yes, in some cases as detailed in the Implementation Preparation section of the Policy. Employees can be assimilated where there is little or no change between the role in the old and new structure, and the number of roles remains the same or there are more roles available than employees matched to roles.

Q. 22. How should an Institution select which employees to retain or make redundant?

Institutions must ensure that, if the need for compulsory redundancies arises, they consider the appropriate selection pool and from that pool selection is made on the basis of objective criteria, which are applied reasonably, fairly and consistently.

The criteria should be measurable and should be capable of being supported by evidence, for example knowledge, skills, qualifications and disciplinary records. Assessment of the criteria should where possible not be reliant on the subjective opinion of an individual manager. The Institution should ensure that the assessment method and selection criteria do not put staff with a disability at a disadvantage.

Q. 23. What selection criteria can an Institution use to assess employees?

The criteria should be relevant and appropriate to the job, and be objective and measurable rather than subjective and based solely on personal opinion. Please see the Implementation Preparation section of the Policy. However, when deciding on criteria individual circumstances should be taken into account. If you are uncertain please speak to your HR School Team for further advice.

Q. 24. How should I record the outcome of the selection process?

In a redundancy selection process, it is advisable for employers to use a redundancy selection matrix, setting out the criteria against which individual employees are scored. The completed matrix should form part of individual consultation with employees.

Q. 25. When should alternative work options be considered?

Institutions should start to consider what alternative work might be available as soon as it becomes clear that redundancies may be necessary. The process of considering alternative work should be an on-going one, right up until the date of dismissal. If new opportunities for alternative work are identified, Institutions should notify affected employees and give them an opportunity to be considered for the role.

Q. 26. What makes an alternative role “suitable”?

When considering whether or not an alternative role is suitable, Institutions should consider the employee’s skills and experience (i.e. do they have the right skills and experience for the new role?), and the terms of the alternative job including: status, place of work, duties, pay, hours and responsibility (i.e. how similar are these to the old role?).

Maintaining status and pay is not necessarily sufficient to make an alternative job role “suitable” if there are other clear differences between the two roles. For example, if an employee’s working hours are significantly rearranged, the new role is unlikely to be a suitable alternative.

Q. 27. Can an employee refuse to take a suitable alternative role?

Yes, however, if an employee unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment, there is no entitlement to redundancy pay. The employee would need to provide their reasons for rejecting the role in writing to their line manager.

Whether refusal of suitable alternative employment is reasonable or unreasonable will depend on the particular employee and their particular circumstances. For instance, factors such as the circumstances in which the offer is made (e.g. the time they are given to consider it), whether or not the role is temporary, and the employee’s personal situation (e.g. the impact it would have on their commute or family responsibilities) all need consideration, but this list is not exhaustive.

The reasonableness of an employee’s decision to refuse suitable alternative work should be assessed from the perspective of the employee at the time the decision to refuse the offer was made. Advice and guidance should be sought from your HR School Team where an employee refuses suitable alternative employment.

Q. 28. What is a trial period?

Where an offer of alternative employment is made, employees under notice of redundancy have a statutory right to a trial period of four weeks. A trial period will start on the employee's first working day in the new role. Please note that Assistant Staff on contracts with a continuous service date prior to 1 October 2003 will have the option of a 12-week trial period (Employment Protection: Code of Practice and Procedure section 4.5).

Q. 29. What happens during the trial period?

The department who accepts the employee into a work trial will review progress, and provide the employee with feedback at regular intervals.

Q. 30. What happens when a trial period is successful?

Before the end of the trial period the department in which the trial period is taking place will normally confirm the outcome to the employee in writing, the department would also be responsible for making the required contractual arrangements. This will not affect an employee’s continuity of service.

Q. 31. What happens if the work trial does not work out for the employee or the department?

Throughout the work trial the employee should be provided with regular feedback on their performance in the new role. If, once the trial period is completed, it is found that the role was unsuitable alternative employment, both the employee and the current department will be informed of this in writing. Where applicable the employee will be entitled to receive redundancy pay unless the employee is able to be redeployed to an alternative post. Please note that formal notice may be given during the work trial period.

Q. 32. What happens if the employee leaves during the trial period?

If during the trial period the employee terminates or gives notice to terminate the new contract for any reason, or the Institution terminates or gives notice to terminate it for a reason connected with, or arising out of any difference between the new and old contracts the employee will be treated as having been dismissed by reason of redundancy on the date on which employment on the old contract ended. However if the employee unreasonably refuses the suitable alternative employment, or accepts an offer but then resigns during the trial period they will be treated as having been dismissed, but they will lose their right to a redundancy payment.

Q. 33. Can notice ever be served earlier than day 61 or 91 (depending on the number of staff affected)?

Yes, notice of redundancy may be served before the end of the change period by mutual agreement between the employee and the Institution.

Q. 34. When would an employee receive their redundancy payment?

A redundancy payment is paid in the payroll month after the last day of employment. Please note that a redundancy payment will only be made if the University has not been successful in redeploying the employee to a job before their last date of employment and the search for redeployment will continue until the very last day.

Q. 35. When will an individual receive their P45?

Where possible the P45 will be issued during the month that the contract terminates or as soon after this date as possible.

Q. 36. What support is there for employees affected by organisational change?

Details of the range of support services available to employees and relevant contact details are provided in the Support section the Policy.

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