In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have been faced with significant financial constraints caused by a reduction in business or a total temporary closure. This problem instigates employers to render many employees redundant. Nevertheless, redundancy is, as a rule-of-thumb, a matter of last resort. Employment Tribunal decisions provide employers with essential knowledge as to the considerations to be made when planning out the procedure to effect redundancies, the application of a separate set of regulations when making collective redundancies, and the fine line that exists between redundancy and unfair dismissal. The employer should ensure that there is genuine and lawful redundancy and that all the necessary measures are taken to avoid such a situation from happening to protect the rights of the employees prior to making any such decisions.
For these reasons, employers are growing more inclined towards reducing hours rather than rendering employees redundant. Reduced hours means that the employees will work less hours than normal and the wage and other entitlements are granted on a pro-rata basis. Note that, for full-time employees, the implementation of reduced hours does not render their employment as part-time, but stands as a mere temporary arrangement. The conditions of work applicable for full-time work should be ascertained prior to switching to reduced hours.
This win-win situation protects both the interests of the employers and those of the employees. Reduced hours helps reduce workloads and thus may motivate employees to provide a better service and whilst allowing them to juggle work and any sudden increase in personal and family obligations they might have by consequence of the change in living circumstances caused by the pandemic. Reducing hours rather than rendering employees redundant in times of crisis will earn the employer respect from one’s employees and goes to show that the employer is willing to act in the best interest of the employees and has their wellbeing in mind and at heart.