If your proposal means that there are less jobs than people or if the new jobs are significantly different to the old jobs, then you’ll probably need a selection process.
In all change situations where employees need to apply for a job it is important that this process is:
- available and understood
- fair and transparent
- appropriate for the job.
In many cases the selection process will be set out in the relevant employment agreements and workplace policies. If your employment agreement or policies includes voluntary redundancy, then make sure this is offered as appropriate. Even if there is no detailed process, there may be some guidance and employers must use this.
Selection criteria should be as objectively measurable as possible and should be communicated clearly to affected employees, with a chance to comment on the criteria. It is also important that staff have enough opportunity to prepare for and to participate in the process. If interviews are involved in the selection process for contestable jobs, employers may want to offer affected employees interview preparation training.
Filling jobs usually follows process steps. This depends on the nature and size of the change.
Confirming and reassigning staff
Permanent staff can be confirmed in positions without an assessment and selection process if:
- the position is comparable or a suitable alternative, and
- the number of staff eligible for confirmation is the same or less than the jobs available.
In a situation where there are more permanent people in comparable jobs or suitable alternative jobs then a transparent selection process will need to be used.
Priority for filling jobs
Available positions should be filled in the following order:
- Permanent staff whose jobs are impacted by the change.
- Where there are the same number or less staff than there are comparable jobs available, complete confirmation.
- Where there are more staff than comparable jobs available for confirmation, then a selection process should be run with this group.
- Where staff are not appointed to comparable jobs they may be eligible for consideration for reassignment to a suitable alternative job.
- Where the number of suitable alternative jobs is the same as the number of staff available for these jobs (ie fit the criteria for suitable alternative jobs), then staff can be reassigned into these jobs.
- Where there are more staff who fit the criteria for reassignment to suitable alternative jobs than there are suitable alternative jobs available, a selection process should be run with this group to decide which employees will be reassigned.
- If an employee doesn't accept a reassignment to a suitable alternative position then they may be seen as having resigned (and may not be eligible for any redundancy payment).
Only if jobs are not all filled, then:
- Consider redeploying permanent staff.
If jobs are still not all filled, then:
- Roles can be advertised for internal and/or external applicants (check employment agreement).
Once the confirmation and reassignment processes are complete, there may be jobs still unfilled. If there are jobs not filled then these jobs can be offered to permanent staff who have not already been placed, even if these jobs are non-suitable (ie the employee can’t be reassigned to them). An employee doesn’t have to agree to redeployment and an employer doesn’t have to agree to redeploy an employee (unless this is in their employment agreement or workplace policies).
- makes sure staff with suitable transferable skills can be given the option of being redeployed to another available position within the business
- is the process of ensuring that every reasonable effort is made to retain the employment of staff
- is a visible way of treating staff with dignity and demonstrating ‘good faith’ by actively seeking and offering redeployment opportunities for them.
Some staff may want to be redeployed (to jobs that they can’t otherwise be reassigned to) for example, the job may be the same or similar but be in another location (not easy commuting distance). Often in this situation a transfer package will be provided.
A staff member may choose accept this job if they have completed the selection process and are the most suitable person for the job.
A job that an employee is redeployed to:
- could be completely different from the employee's previous jobs, skills and experience, even with retraining, and
- could pay a salary that is less than the employee's existing salary (some employers will offer an equalisation allowance for a set period of time to match the employee's previous salary).
You cannot force an employee to accept a job that they can't be reassigned to, to avoid paying redundancy compensation. Changes of this sort must be agreed to by the employee.
Staff who decline deployment may be eligible for redundancy.
Alternative options to redundancy
In some situations (eg in which there is: no redundancy payable, no other options for work nearby, employee wants to stay on due to nearing retirement) there are other options that can be explored as alternatives to redundancy. Examples of these are:
- changes in hours, duties and shifts
- job sharing
- shorter hours across the board.
Any changes of this sort must be agreed to by the employee; you cannot force changes of this nature to avoid paying redundancy compensation.
The employee is redundant when there are no further options available for the employee to remain employed with the employer. See more information on redundancy.
Not a way to manage performance or misconduct
If there are staff who have a performance or other ‘issue’, this is not the process to deal with it. Performance issues should be managed through performance management (not be paying redundancy – this sends the wrong message to staff). There is no need to stop (or not start) managing a performance issue or misconduct just because a change process is underway.
Many agreements include a clause on voluntary redundancy. If this is the case, be certain to include this process at the appropriate point in your implementation plan.
Fixed-term employees are not included as affected employees in a workplace change. However, if the change will mean that their contract is ended before the agreed fixed term, then they are entitled to the notice stated in their fixed-term contract. This may be either paid or worked, again in agreement with the contract.
Casual employees are not included as affected employees in a workplace change and are not entitled to redundancy. However, as casual employment may evolve to permanent over time, an employer should check all casual employees (working is the area being changed) to make sure that they are true casuals. If they have become permanent then they will be included as affected employees.
Contractors are not included as affected people in a workplace change. If the change means that their contract will end before the date that they are due to complete their contract, then any decision on termination will be in agreement with their contract.
If an employee believes that they were made redundant for reasons that were not genuine or the workplace change process was unfair, they can challenge it by raising a personal grievance.
Disclosure of information during workplace change
When an employer proposes action that will (or is likely to) harmfully affect an employee’s job, that employee is entitled to confidential information about themselves. However, an employer does not have to give an affected employee confidential information about another person if that would unnecessarily disclose the other person’s affairs.
Employers do not have to disclose confidential information if there is good reason to maintain the confidentiality of that information. Good reasons include:
- complying with legal requirements to maintain confidentiality
- protecting the privacy of individuals
- protecting the commercial position of an organisation from being unreasonably biased.
Tips for employees
- Make sure you understand the selection and appointment process and what this might mean for you.
- Take part in any training on CV writing or interview skills offered.
- You should take part in any selection processes for same or similar jobs.
- You should be able to apply for any new jobs that you think you have the skills for.
- If you turn down a job that your employer considers a suitable alternative job then your employer might say that you have resigned because you turned down what they say is a suitable job.
- You should be given good information showing how the new job is a suitable alternative for you – considering your skills and ability.
- A change is about keeping as many jobs as possible for staff. These do not have to be exactly the same as your old job.
- If you really think that the job you are offered is not a job that you can do (even with the training offered), or the terms and conditions are less than your current job, you should talk to about this. Options include: your manager; your representative, someone you trust, other employees, mediation, use the ‘resolving issues process’.
- A change process can sometimes be a worrying time, this is normal. Make sure that you look after yourself, eg eat well and get plenty of sleep. If you have concerns, make sure to talk with someone. If EAP or other support is offered then use this.
- If you are unhappy with the process or believe you have been treated in an unfair way you should talk with someone. For example, your manager, representative, HR person, support person or use the resolving issues process.