Redundancy: Being placed at risk

Different organisations adopt different approaches to communicating redundancy programmes. Being placed at risk by email, at a group briefing or as a 1:1 meeting. Whichever approach your organisation takes it is important to get as many answers and as much information as possible.

This document has been written to help you think about the questions you need to ask, the information you may want to request and the other support available.

Business case – organisations embark on redundancy programmes for a number of reasons and this would usually be communicated in a Business Case for redundancy. The Business Case should have been considered by the senior team and the Board (sub-committee if applicable).

Even if your organisation does not have to formally consult as a function of the number of potential redundancies, it is good practice, and out of courtesy to share the Business Case with any recognised Trade union/ employee forum. If formal consultation is required, this would also need to happen.

Note – this document may not be called a Business Case but essentially it contains the rationale for the decision to make a job or jobs redundant. It may be viewed as commercially sensitive or as it may contain information about other teams or functions it may be covered by GDPR. In that instance you may only be able to see the section relating to your job, team or function.

Redundancy consultation – the length of consultation depends on the number of jobs that are at risk. Between 0 – 19 there is no formal consultation period, between 20-99, consultation lasts for 30 days and for 100 jobs and over the consultation period is 45 days. At the end of the consultation period the outcome will be communicated, and you would be given formal notice of redundancy.

Communication – as part of the consultation process you should receive clear information and updates. If something is unclear then always ask for clarification or more information. As part of this noting dates, times and content of response can help you track the process and next steps.

Options – the aim of redundancy consultation is to ensure there is a genuine exchange of views and information in terms of why redundancies are proposed and how they can be avoided.

Thinking through different scenarios and presenting them as part of the consultation process is essential, as other options may not have been explored, for example reducing your hours, re-focusing your job, or creating a job share. Other ways of reducing costs, which is often the driver, is to ask about taking an unpaid career break, a sabbatical or parental leave that will reduce the payroll spend until the museum recovers.

Redundancy Policy – your organisation should have a policy that outlines the process of redundancy, any agreed terms, notice periods or associated support.

For example, it should include the process adopted if there is a proposed reduction in post numbers rather than the removal of an entire job – where, for example, five members of staff have to apply for three jobs.

It should also include the commitment, and process, of finding you suitable alternative employment within the organisation, where possible. This could be a horizontal move at the same grade but equally could be another job at a lower grade. Again the redundancy policy should include any commitments to ring-fencing salaries at the higher level as a result of a down grade.

Trade unions – you may be a member of a Trade union and as such try to access as much support as possible, ask them about the role they have already in the consultation process and identify any other benefits that are associated for example access to legal advice.

Even without individual membership asking the question about how Trade unions have been involved to date and going forward can be help you understand the process, and due diligence. Many resources are available, often this side of the paywall, to help you understand redundancy

Union website links

Other support available – in addition to Trade union support there are other organisations that can provide relevant information about the redundancy process.

Employment law is a reserved matter and so the advice from .gov – applies to all four nations.

Wellbeing support – being placed at risk is a very personal experience, we all react and respond differently. Your organisation has a duty of care for your wellbeing throughout this, so let them know if this is having an adverse impact. Depending on the size of your museum, you may have an occupational health service or an employee assistance programme providing access to health care professionals and counselling. This should be available during your notice period, and some may extend access for a fixed time as a function of redundancy.

Wellbeing support links

Museums Association is committed to supporting its members and the wider sector please contact us if you have any questions about careers and professional development.

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