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Guidance notes on redundancy selection criteria


These notes are intended to help managers make fair choices as to which employees may be selected for redundancy when a job or jobs are no longer required.

When it has been established that circumstances are likely to result in a job loss or job losses and there are consequent redundancies, management will normally create a 'pool' of employees from which the selection is to be made. This is usually determined by the area of work that is affected and should be subject to consultation with the Trade Unions and Staff Side.

Selection for redundancy will be made on the basis of objective criteria, which must be reasonably, fairly and consistently applied. The criteria must be capable of objective substantiation and of being backed up with evidence and data.

Where an employee in the selection pool is disabled, the Commission will ensure that he/she is not put at any disadvantage on account of the application of the selection criteria and will accordingly make reasonable adjustments to the selection procedure to remove the disadvantage that the disabled employee would otherwise have.

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To ensure that procedures are fair, open, equitable and objective, management must define appropriate technical, professional or other redundancy selection criteria, which relate to the area of work in question. These may be similar to selection criteria used in recruitment. The criteria must also be the subject of consultation with the Trade Unions and Staff Side, prior to any individuals being identified as "at risk" of redundancy. The aim should be to reach agreement on the selection criteria wherever possible.

The selection criteria create a “selection matrix”. The matrix is then applied to a pool of individuals whose roles broadly match the selection criteria. Normally, these pools are role-specific.

Membership of the selection panel, the method of scoring and moderation will also be subject to consultation with Trade Unions and Staff Side. Under no circumstances should the scoring be undertaken by one individual. A moderator, normally the Head of HR, must observe the scoring process and has the power to intervene if s/he thinks scores or standards are not being applied consistently. The moderator will normally sign the matrix to confirm that the process has been undertaken fairly.

It is important that any scoring panel is made aware of the scope for discrimination when applying criteria which may be (a) subjective and/or (b) open to different interpretations. Also, the criteria might lead to indirect discrimination on grounds of gender, race, disability and age etc.

Where the job to be lost is regarded as a genuinely unique role – ie a role that is not generally interchangeable with other roles within the office – there is no selection pool and thus it is not necessary to draw up selection criteria or matrix. Management may issue the “at risk” letter and begin individual consultation as soon as the consultation with the Trade Unions and Staff Side is completed.

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Selection criteria areas

Some broad areas which can be assessed to establish selection criteria are set out below. Not all would apply in each redundancy situation, and some might be used rarely. This list is not exhaustive. The possible criteria are:

Performance/Appraisal Assessment
Employees within the capability procedure or whose most recent appraisal indicated that they were not fully effective would be more vulnerable than those who were fully successful or had exceeded some of their key objectives. Similarly those with Performance Pay recommendations or awards might be less likely to be at risk in a situation where general downsizing reductions are being made.

Area of work
Clearly, those working within a particular area will be more vulnerable than their colleagues if it is their particular activity which is withdrawn or reduced. This criterion may not be used in isolation; redeployment and hence selection for redundancy within a broader skill base should normally apply.

Special skills (eg computing, technical, management, leadership)
Special skills must be relevant to the work in question. Employees who lack specific relevant skills would obviously be at greater risk than colleagues who possess them. This would normally be covered in a skills matrix.

Flexibility/evidence of career change
Employees who have demonstrated a flexible attitude and/or who have successfully changed career previously might be considered to be more readily redeployable and more valuable to the long-term success of the organisation because of their wide-ranging background. Objectivity and relevance may be issues with this criterion and it is important not to indirectly discriminate against, for example, someone whose caring responsibilities or a medical condition have made it difficult for them to be as flexible as some colleagues. Equally, there may be individuals who have not had the opportunity to display flexibility through redeployment.

Skill base
The need to retain key skills or employees with a particular background may be important within a team or office context. Again, objectivity and relevance are important.

Conduct/absence record
There may be situations where it would be appropriate to consider those with poor disciplinary or attendance records when identifying redundancies. However, in the case of sickness absence, care must be taken to avoid any possibility of discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Programme of work/location/funding source
There may be situations where redundancy is clearly linked to a geographical location, a particular work stream or a funding source. However, these criteria will not be sufficient on their own; they must be associated with other criteria set out above, particularly those related to skills, performance and outputs. The only exception to this might be where an office is closing and no posts are to be redeployed to a new location.

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Using a selection matrix in redundancy selection

To avoid unfair selection for redundancy within the redundancy selection pool, an order of ranking needs to be established. This is achieved by using a selection matrix, which effectively scores or ranks the individuals within the pool, and identifies those who are likely to be "at risk" of redundancy, depending on the numbers of redundancies needed in that area of expertise.

The following examples show different matrices dealing with both technical and non-technical criteria. The skills-based matrix would be most commonly used but the performance based matrix, or elements of it might also apply. Other systems may be equally valid. The key objective is to maximise objectivity in (a) the criteria and (b) the scoring. To this end, it is important that the scoring panel has access to sufficient information on each individual within the selection pool, so that informed judgements are made. It will not normally be sufficient to use the appraisals for the individuals in question. The type of information to be made available will need to be discussed with the Trade Union, as part of the consultation process.

Once agreed for a specific redundancy situation, matrices, scoring systems and weightings cannot be changed to manipulate results.

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Example matrices (for illustration only)

Example 1: Skills matrix
Factor Exceptional Successful Adequate Unsatisfactory Weighting* Score
Knowledge of area A
Knowledge of technique B
Knowledge of process C
Experience of analysis method D
Presentational skills/ experience
Collaborative skills
Outreach activities/ experience

In Example 1, the specific skill criteria would vary for any redundancy pool in any redundancy situation. Other relevant criteria may also be added as applicable and performance-based criteria can also be used (see Example 2). Weightings may also vary from situation to situation.

Example 2: Performance-based matrix
Criteria Weighting* Score
Work performance
Overall performance is exceptional and conisistently exceeds required standard 
Overall performance exceeds the objectives of the role
Overall performance meets all the objectives of the role
Overall performance meets most of the objectives of the role
Overall performance fails to meet the objectives of the role
Skills and competencies
Displays full competence in current role, is multi-skilled, flexible, able to take on a range of different roles
Displays full competence in current role, is multi-skilled, regularly providing support to others
Displays full competence in current role
Displays competence in most aspects of current role but requires some supervision
Has insufficient skills in current role and cannot operate without close supervision
Disciplinary record
No disciplinary record
Verbal warning
First written warning
Final written warning
Attendance record
Excellent attendance/timekeeping, minimal instances of absence
Above average attendance, some examples of absence/lateness but less than the selection pool average
Attendance/timekeeping equivalent to the selection pool average
Below average or poor attendance/timekeeping compared with pool average
Unacceptable levels of attendance/timekeeping

*To achieve the total score for an employee, each of the criteria is weighted by a factor of one to three to reflect its relative importance. The weightings will take into account management’s requirements to meet its primary business needs and targets as well as the need to maintain a balanced workforce. The weightings in the performance based matrix could be as follows:

Standard of work performance (x3)
Skills and competence (x2)
Disciplinary record (x1)
Attendance (x1)

Having weighted the scores, a total is calculated for each employee. For example, where it is necessary to reduce the headcount in a work area from 15 to 10, a selection matrix is completed for all 15 employees. The five with the lowest scores will be provisionally selected for redundancy. However, to ensure that an objective and fair selection has been made, additional information to support the scores is gathered from as wide a range of sources as possible.

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Scoring skills that have not been tested

Where there is no evidence either way as to an individual’s competence/ability against a particular selection criterion in the matrix, the individual must be marked as “not tested” and given a notional score. Allowances will be made for anyone who may be new to the job to ensure that the scoring is fair.

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Access to matrix scores

An employee who is declared redundant on the basis of selection criteria which uses a skills or performance matrix has the right to see a breakdown of their score and should be given limited information about their position on the matrix relative to other employees in the selection pool. They should not be given the specific scores of others in the selection pool, but this information would be discoverable at an employment tribunal in the case of a claim of unfair selection for redundancy.

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November 2010

Date Updated: 04/04/11