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Step 2 - Consultation and Communication

3.2.1 Effective consultation and communication is an important aspect of organisational change and should be handled sensitively and transparently. Consultation must be meaningful and take place as soon as practicable whilst proposals are at the formative stage to allow feedback and comments on the proposals. Individual employees and any representatives should be encouraged to provide feedback on the proposals so that the Institution can consider their views before making any final decisions. Consultation must be completed before employees are issued notice of redundancy.

Consultation Requirements

3.2.2 The University’s policy is to provide a minimum of 30 days consultation to those employees affected by change and any representatives.

3.2.3 Consideration should be given to the consultation requirements applicable to the particular organisational change. Further details are provided below:

Number of employees


Consultation period

Total change period

(including consultation)

1 - 2

30 days

60 days

3 - 19

30 days

90 days

20 - 100+*

45 days

90 days

3.2.4 *The legal requirement to conduct collective consultation applies if it is proposed that 20 or more employees are to be made redundant within any 90-day period.  The purpose of collective consultation is to inform and consult employees and their representatives with a view to reaching agreement on ways of avoiding the dismissals, reducing the number of employees to be dismissed and mitigating the effects of dismissals.  It enables employees and their representatives to comment on proposals, suggest alternatives and receive a reasoned response to opinions expressed.
3.2.5 Representatives for the purposes of collective consultation will either be:
  • trade union representative(s), or
  • elected employee representatives (if the employees in the affected staff group are not represented by a recognised trade union).

3.2.6 Formal consultation will commence when the affected employees and their representatives have been provided with a copy of the business case and/or consultation paper.

3.2.7 Further information on managing consultation exercises generally can be found in the Guidance document that accompanies this policy.

Conducting the Consultation

3.2.8 During the consultation phase, affected employees and any representatives as appropriate will be provided with adequate information for them to provide a response and will be consulted on ways of avoiding redundancies, reducing the number of employees to be dismissed and mitigating the impact of potential job losses.  Any suggestions received will be considered carefully and the Institution will decide on whether they can be adopted or implemented. Further information on managing individual consultation can be found in the Guidance document that accompanies this policy.

3.2.9 In all circumstances the lead manager (or nominated individual) should offer to meet with affected employees on an individual basis as early as possible in the change process.  Individual consultation will typically include two meetings at which the employee may be accompanied by either a trade union representative or a colleague who is an employee of the University. Further information on managing individual consultation can be found in the Guidance document that accompanies this policy.

3.2.10 During consultation the lead manager should:

  • explain the rationale for the organisational change/proposed redundancies in detail
  • seek to ensure employees fully understand the implications of the proposed changes for them personally
  • discuss potential roles in the new/revised structure to which they may be matched or that might be considered for alternative employment
  • explain the selection process for allocating new/revised roles where appropriate, including the selection criteria
  • seek the views of the employee on the proposed changes, including any practical means of mitigating or avoiding the redundancy if the employee occupies a post at risk
  • explain the redeployment and other support that is available
  • carefully consider any suggestions received
  • encourage staff members to comment on the proposals.

3.2.11 The lead manager will ensure that affected employees are able to express their views during the individual consultation process and must give genuine consideration to those views.  The lead manager must make it clear that no final decision will be taken until the consultation process is completed.

3.2.12 Individuals potentially at risk of redundancy will be advised at the outset of the consultation exercise, so that they are fully aware of the potential outcomes and can access the support available at the earliest opportunity (see the Support section).

3.2.13 Individuals who wish to receive an estimate of redundancy payment may request this during the consultation stage. Please note that the University will provide a redundancy package estimate to individuals who are at risk of redundancy, once this has been determined.

3.2.14 Employees who are absent from work, for example on sick leave, maternity leave or on secondment, must also be consulted, especially if the changes proposed put them at risk of redundancy.  The lead manager should ask the employee to confirm how s/he would like to be consulted, for example, by way of meetings at a neutral venue, by telephone or in writing, and should try to accommodate the employee's requests where reasonable. If a meeting is held at a non-University venue, it is recommended that the manager be accompanied. The employee also has the right to be accompanied to formal consultation meetings by either a trade union representative or a colleague who is an employee of the University.

3.2.15 Following consultation meetings the lead manager will carefully consider the feedback received from the affected employees and their representatives. S/he should prepare a summary of key themes presented in the feedback and provide reasoned responses as appropriate.

3.2.16 If it is necessary to revise the proposals significantly as a result of the feedback received, it may be necessary to undertake a further period of consultation on those revisions.  The length of the additional consultation will depend on the nature and scale of the revisions.

3.2.17 After the conclusion of the consultation period, it will be confirmed to affected staff a) that formal consultation has now closed and b) what the new arrangements will be (e.g. the new structure), subject to any necessary University approvals. If further suggestions are brought forward by affected staff after the closure of formal consultation, the University will have discretion to consider these but this will not constitute a re-opening or extension of the consultation.

Next Step:

Step 3 - Implementation Preparation