21. Aug, 2015



Looking back at my own work days as HR director I can see a lot of differences in the definition, processes and requirements for redundancy, retrenchment and redeployment of workers nowadays because of various progressive factors such as the impact of unionisation, legal assistance and awareness, political support for workers and even better understanding and management by the employees as well as the other leaders within the business organisations.

However, the fact remains that redundancy has become an important business decision for many business leaders in cases of downturn in their business, change in overall economic circumstances of the country, downsizing for some other reasons such as lack of specialist and other necessary skills and/or looking at restructuring the organization for profitability and performance demands from the Board of Directors of larger organizations.

Therefore, workplace dictionary has been enlarged to relook at redundancy, retrenchment and redeployment with extra care and specific consideration for the employers as well as the employees. We cannot just look at the entitlement issues for both sides of the organization. While the employers can justify redundancy because of various changes in workplace and work pressures, it is equally true that the employees have reached a stage where with the help of their unions, their other legal representatives and even supportive laws, rules and regulations they too stand up and seek justice for wrongful dismissal, cooked up redundancies and unjustified downsizing.

So the current situations, changes, circumstances and other revolutionary and educational endeavours have given us reason to look at both sides of the story to tackle the issues of redundancy and retrenchment in order to find reasonable methods of redeployment, severance pay, restructuring the workforce and conduct general downsizing of the business organizations that can justify these necessary evils.

Some of the sensible requirements and pre requisites of these issues are effective communication, discussion and consultation with the people concerned before taking any action. Holding needed consultative sessions with the board, the managers, unions and the workers will enable us to make reasonably acceptable decisions regarding voluntary or compulsory redundancy and the extent of redundancy packages or any possible swap with the sister or other similar organisations.

Many organisations fail to act properly in these matters to be able to seek flexible work arrangements, re-skill the workers, re- structure the work place, cut or shorten working hours, allow workers to take their unpaid leave, organise temporary layoff with reasonable wages, swap jobs, loan employees to others interested firms, institute pay cuts and even perform the FIFO procedure. 

Sometimes the organisations can justify their actions to restructure, make workers redundant and re deploy workers on the grounds of bankruptcy, solvency or poor profitability provided they have been communicating their difficulties with the people involved and holding the necessary consultative procedures. However, this is a delicate issue for the employers and the employees and can relate to the loyalty of one to the other.

When it becomes absolutely necessary to take this action no amount of loyalty is helpful to face the worsening economic conditions and other adverse circumstances. I have known of people getting retrenched with over twenty years of loyal service so I advised them to keep and make themselves employable by re skilling, get advice from colleagues regarding their finances in case of redundancy and be ready for a career change at any time. 

Finally I would avoid the mystery of the unknown through regular information about the situation to everyone involved. This vital process of communication and consultation would reduce anger, frustration, fear, confusion, anxiousness and any aspects of denial on either side of the table. If all the required and necessary procedures are followed by everyone involved then the entire process of redundancy, re-structuring and re deployment can be a smooth adventure in all circumstances including adverse economic business, downturn, and inefficiency.

Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad.

August 20th 2015.