Human Resources

2.0    Procedure

2.1    Measures to Avoid or Minimise Redundancy

Where redundancies are proposed, consideration first will be given to some or all of the following approaches at the relevant time, as appropriate to the situation:

  •  Natural wastage i.e. non replacement of leavers;
  • Restrictions on recruitment, for example suspending recruitment where there are similar roles within other Schools or Departments;
  • Reduction or elimination of overtime;
  • Consideration of flexible working arrangements and career breaks/leave of absence;
  •  Reduced usage of sub contracted labour, agency workers and temporary employees (unless they are necessary prior to a closure situation or for special projects where specific skills or continuity are required);
  • Provision of reasonable training or re-training of staff members for redeployment (see Redeployment policy);
  •  Inviting applications for early retirement or voluntary severance/redundancy (the College reserves the right to refuse such applications);
  • A reduction in contractual working time either on a permanent basis or on a temporary basis through, for example, the Variation in Hours policy for Teaching and Scholarship staff;
  •  A temporary cessation of work for an agreed period, for example, where a course is deferred for a term.

2.2    The Redundancy Process

The redundancy process consists of:

  • the development of a business case outlining the rationale for the proposed staff redundancies,  including the selection process;
  • notification by HR to the Governors and the relevant union, where appropriate, prior to notifying all staff affected;
  • consultation with staff individually and where appropriate, collectively with unions;
  • consideration of 'bumping' (see Section 3.4 Bumping) in accordance with statutory requirements;
  • implementation of the proposals if agreed and redeployment of staff where practicable;
  • providing the opportunity for staff to appeal on their selection for redundancy and on the fairness of the procedure. 

2.3    The Business Case

The business case sets out:

  • the reason for the requirement for a reduction in employee numbers;
  •  what impact this reduction will have on the working procedures of other employees;
  •  the number of employees of any such description employed at the location or within the management area concerned;
  •  the number of staff affected, the job titles and grades of employees whose positions may no longer be required;
  •  the proposed method of selection;
  •  the time-scale over which the reduction in employee numbers will take place;
  •  options and alternative employment opportunities available to avoid compulsory redundancies.

The business case is developed by the relevant School/Department manager and forwarded to HR. The case is forwarded to the Executive Dean/Director and Chair of HRSPC (Human Resources Strategy and Policy Committee) (or nominee) for approval in principle prior to the start of a consultation.

2.4    Consultation

When a redundancy situation arises, the College will consult normally for a period of at least 30 days with all employees affected. In a collective redundancy situation, i.e. where it is proposed to make 20 or more employees redundant over a 90 day period, the College will consult with the relevant trade unions within the required period; in accordance with employment legislation (see Section 2.8.2 Procedure for Collective Redundancies).

The main purpose of the consultations are to explain the rationale for the proposals, discuss any selection criteria and the method of application to be used; consider other options including redeployment and retraining for another suitable role; listen to the concerns of staff and their representatives; and consider suggestions for avoiding and mitigating the need for compulsory redundancies. The College will seek to consult on proposed redundancies at an early opportunity to allow for the consideration of other options that may help avoid or mitigate redundancies.

2.5    Redundancy Selection Pools

The College recognises that in certain circumstances such as in restructures or downsizing of teams or departments, it may be necessary for a redundancy selection pool to be identified and selection criteria to be applied to determine which staff member(s) should be selected for redundancy. 

In these circumstances, the selection criteria will be established by the relevant line manager in liaison with HR. The criteria will normally be included within the business case and form part of the consultation process.  The selection process will seek to use objective criteria that will be consistently applied and will not be based solely on the opinion of an individual line manager. Managers are responsible for ensuring that data used in the selection criteria is robust and where appropriate allows for comparable analysis over a period of time.

The criteria will consist of a range of factors which may include:

  • skills and qualifications;
  • specialist knowledge;
  • work performance including effective administration;
  • aptitude for the work;
  • student feedback for student facing roles;
  • attendance; and
  • disciplinary record. 

The selection criteria will be applied to all the employees concerned in the pool including anyone absent/on leave from work. Other forms of selection may include competitive interviewing, testing or other forms of assessment. A record will be kept of the selection process and outcomes.

2.6    Appeals

Any staff member with over 2 years’ continuous service (1 year, if employed before 6th April 2012) who has received confirmation that they are to be made redundant has a right to appeal the decision to terminate their employment under this policy. 

Staff eligible to appeal may do so either because they feel that they have been unfairly selected for redundancy; or because they feel that there has been a procedural failing. Any appeal should be made in writing, clearly setting out the grounds for the appeal, to the Head of HR Services normally within 10 working days of receiving written confirmation of notice of the redundancy. The staff member has the right to be accompanied at this meeting by a trade union representative or a Birkbeck work colleague.

Appeals will be heard without unreasonable delay, normally within 10 days of receipt of the appeal. This timescale may be extended depending upon the availability of those involved.

The appeal will be heard by a panel chaired by a senior manager, a panel member from a different department who has not previously been involved directly in the case, together with a HR representative. The Panel will re-examine the evidence provided and inform the employee in writing of their decision, normally, within 10 working days of the appeal meeting.  The Chair will make the final decision if a consensus cannot be reached.

2.7    Support for Employees

Line managers and HR have joint responsibility to provide support to staff through a potential redundancy situation.

Companions at Meetings: Employees have a right to be accompanied at meetings by a Birkbeck trade union representative or a Birkbeck work colleague. Companions may assist staff in stating their case but may not answer instead of the employee. The right to a companion does not extend to job interviews held as part of the redundancy and redeployment process.

Time Off: Staff under notice will have the right to a reasonable amount of time off to seek other work, attend interviews or undertake training.

Counselling: It is acknowledged that redundancy can be a difficult and stressful situation for staff and the College provides additional support for staff through the University of Westminster’s ‘Only Connect’ counselling service. 

Redundancy Payments: HR will provide details to staff at risk of redundancy of their potential redundancy benefits/severance payment upon request.

Employees who are made redundant and who have at least 2, or more years’ continuous service are entitled to statutory redundancy payments (SRPs).                                                

Members of staff with 2 or more years’ continuous service will be entitled to two weeks of contractual redundancy payment. Service is based on the number of years of completed continuous service x 2 weeks’ pay (weekly pay is capped at x4 the statutory weekly maximum, currently £450 (February 2013). This cap will increase according to the increases in the national statutory redundancy pay weekly cap. Basic weekly pay covers the gross amount prior to any application of Salary Sacrifice.

Please note that enhanced payments will include relevant entitlements to statutory redundancy payments. The College reserves the right to vary or withdraw these entitlements from time to time, subject to consultation.

All redundancy payments are made within the parameters of Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidelines. Statutory redundancy pay calculations are based on average earnings of the 12 week period leading up to redundancy in accordance with the statutory cap.  Currently, the first £30k of any payment, excluding payment in lieu of notice, is tax free.

Members of staff on fixed term contracts of 2, or more years’ continuous service may also be entitled to a redundancy payment, for example, where the contract is not renewed due to loss of further funding, or due to the completion of a project. Reference should be made to the Fixed Term Contract policy.

All other normal contractual payments that are taxable will be included in the final pay.  Staff will normally be expected to use any outstanding accrued annual leave prior to the end of their employment. In exceptional circumstances, payments may be authorised for untaken accrued annual leave at date of leaving in accordance with the Annual Leave policy.

Redundant employees who leave before their termination date will not receive any redundancy or severance payments unless authorised by the Director of Human Resources.

2.8    Redundancy Procedure

2.8.1    Procedure for Individual Redundancies

Where it is proposed that redundancies of between 1 and 19 staff are required, the College will consult with individuals affected for a period of 30 days and the following procedure will apply:

Step 1: The designated manager develops a business case outlining the rationale and timescales for the proposed redundancies and forwards this to the School/Department and the Human Resource Manager (HRM).

Step 2: The case is forwarded by the HRM to the Executive Dean/Director Professional Services and the Chair of HRSPC for approval in principle.

Step 3: Staff will be given the business case and notified that they are at risk of redundancy. Staff will be invited to an individual consultation meeting with the manager during the consultation period. Staff will be given the opportunity to discuss the impact of the proposed redundancy on their personal situation; voice their concerns, put forward ideas or suggestions of how the effects of redundancy may be mitigated and to discuss and consider redeployment options. Staff will normally be invited to express their interest in voluntary redundancy or retirement, if appropriate, and asked whether they wish to opt out of the redundancy consultation process. If interested, staff will need to confirm this to HR in writing. A copy of the business case will be sent to the trade unions.

Step 4: Suitable alternative employment options will be reviewed and discussed with the employee, including any training or development that may be appropriate. If there is a new job that is the same or closely matches the employee’s current job, the employee will be assimilated into the post where practicable.

Step 5: Where selection criteria are used, employees will be offered a meeting by HR to discuss their concerns, if selected for compulsory redundancy (see Section 3.3 Selection).

Step 6: Staff will be given notice, if selected for compulsory redundancy, and notified of their right of appeal.

Step 7: Redeployment opportunities will be considered until the last day of employment.

2.8.2    Procedure for Collective Redundancies

Where it is proposed to make 20 or more staff redundant in one establishment in a 90 day period, the College will consult with the relevant trade unions and staff at the same time. The following collective consultative procedure will apply:

Step 1: The designated manager develops a business case outlining the reasons and timescales for the proposed redundancies and forwards this to the School/Department and HR.

Step 2: The case is forwarded by the HRM for approval in principle by the Executive Dean/Director Professional Services and the Chair of HRSPC.

Step 3: Trade unions and staff will normally be consulted for a period of at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 20 to 99 employees are to be made redundant at one establishment within a 90 day period; or at least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect if 100 or more employees are to be made redundant at one establishment within a 90 day period. The 30 and 45 day periods referred to reflect current legal requirements.

Step 4: An open meeting will be held for staff affected and union representatives to attend. Consultation will take place with employees who are potentially affected, if appropriate and not just those who are at direct risk of redundancy.

Step 5: Staff will be invited to individual meetings during the consultation period to discuss the impact of the proposed redundancy on their personal situation; to listen to their concerns, ideas or suggestions of how the effects of redundancy may be mitigated and to discuss and consider redeployment options.

Step 6: Staff who are provisionally selected for compulsory redundancy will be invited to attend a meeting to discuss their selection. A summary of the outcome of the selection process will be provided to the Chair of HRSPC and an anonymised copy to the recognised trade union. Staff who are redeployed will be notified that they are no longer at risk of redundancy.

Step 7: Staff selected for compulsory redundancy will be given notice of redundancy and notified of their right to appeal. The Executive Dean/Director or nominee in consultation with HR and a representative line manager will confirm the final compulsory redundancies.

Step 8: Redeployment opportunities will be considered until the last day of employment.

2.9    Redundancy Procedure for Withdrawal of a Module at Short-notice

Where a potential redundancy situation arises affecting Teaching and Scholarship staff through the withdrawal of a module or programme of study as a result of low student enrolments; it is unlikely that it will be possible to follow the normal redundancy process and decisions may need to be taken at short notice.

Step 1: Where the manager has concerns about the level of enrolments, they will notify HR and set out the case in relation to enrolment, viability and the potential impact and options available such as:

  • a reduction of teaching hours in accordance with the Variation in Hours policy for individuals affected.
  • other options as appropriate – for example, the temporary cessation of work, deferral of the module to another term within the year  or the identification of suitable alternative work for Teaching and Scholarship staff.

Step 2:  Teaching and Scholarship staff will be warned about low recruitment numbers and the potential impact as soon as practicable. They will be notified that their hours may need to be reduced in accordance with the Variation in Hours policy if the College decides to withdraw the programme/module or reduce the number of occurrences of the module.  

Step 3: If it is possible to manage the reduction in student enrolment by reducing hours within the Variation of Hours Policy, Teaching and Scholarship staff will be given due notice of this. 

NB. If it is not possible to manage the reduction through the Variation in Hours policy, or where it is envisaged that the downturn will continue in the longer term, the Assistant School Manager and Assistant Dean will submit a business case for approval by the School Manager and Executive Dean and copied to HR.

Depending upon the number of staff affected within the College, the individual or collective redundancy procedure will then apply from Step 3 of the Individual or Collective Redundancy Procedure.

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The HR team is based on the first floor of Egmont House
Postal address: Human Resources, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Email: humanresources@bbk.ac.uk