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'Your employment is terminated, effective immediately'

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You may have seen the uproar of critical reviews on social media against the US digital mortgage company after footage of the call was circulated showing the company's CEO firing 900 members of staff over a Zoom call last week.

Organisations do have to make job cuts sometimes but, due to the sensitivity of the matter, how they go about it and the approach they take can have a fundamental impact on how individuals deal with that shocking news and, ultimately, the reputation of the company.

It is not as simple as ‘You’re Fired!’ A mass-dismissal like this one would not be lawful in the UK and would lead to very expensive claims against the employer. UK employers have to enter a collective consultation process with employees: 30 days where 20 or more are affected, and 45 days if 100 or more people are being made redundant. Each affected employee could claim up to 13 weeks gross pay if their employer failed to follow these rules.

The collective process involves consultation with employee representatives, and providing certain information to them. The whole period has to run before any dismissals can take effect. Employers still have to carry out individual consultation as well, to minimise the risk of unfair dismissal claims from employees with two years’ service or more. The whole process needs careful planning and communication. 

Employers also need to consider whether there are alternative roles for members of staff at risk of redundancy. Employers need to consider every reasonable alternative, and only dismiss as the last option. 

Regardless of whether collective consultation rules apply, or even whether an employee has the two years’ service required for an unfair dismissal claim, taking a more sensitive and human approach to redundancy enables staff to be dismissed with respect and their dignity intact. It can also save an enormous amount of social media embarrassment for your business.