Begin with a consultation
Modern awards contain a ‘standard’ provision that places an obligation on an employer to consult with employees regarding major workplace change. The award requires an employer to notify affected employees when a definite decision has been made to introduce major changes that are likely to have significant effects on employees.
‘Significant effects’ include terminating employment, so making a position redundant by restructuring must be something the staff are aware of as a possibility.
The obligation of an employer to consult with employees would arise in most redundancy situations. Failure to do so may result in a claim of unfair dismissal because, for example, the selection criteria used to identify which employee was to be made redundant was subjective and discriminatory.
Create selection criteria
Selecting which employees are to be made redundant can give rise to disputes. Employee dismissal may be influenced by a number of factors, including union pressure, award obligations, or anti-discrimination legislation.
Even in the case of genuine redundancy, the termination of employment may be harsh, unjust or unreasonable.
The factors determining which positions are to be redundant should be based on objective criteria and should be known by employees in advance, such as through company policy. The employer should select who is to be made redundant, referring to the skills, experience, training and performance of individuals compared to the current and future needs of the organisation.