The paper 'Human Resource Management at Wordsmith’ s" is a great example of a human resources case study. Over the years redundancies and downsizing have remained a critical legal issue for Human Resource managers and employers in businesses across the world. Since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, many organizations and companies have faced several challenges in the planning and management of redundancies. Many employers assume that the redundancy planning process is easier than it is, and this has become the reason many fail to consider; small and genuine legal aspects in the redundancy process.
There exist legal issues that every business or company has to take into account when designing and managing an entire redundancy process. In reference to the Wordsmith case study, this paper discusses the legal issues to consider in designing a redundancy process among other factors; that the HR needs to configure in ensuring the plans success. In view of the plan to downsize, Gemma the HR for Wordsmith’ s, a retail bookseller in New South Wales has to consider certain legal issues when designing the redundancy process. These issues will not only help the business in case they have to legally defend their decision in future but will also ensure fair treatment of the redundant employees.
First, Gemma has to establish the genuineness of the redundant process. This may involve following any consultation requirements stipulated in the business agreement or the employee registration agreements (CIPD, 2013). To avoid being accused of unfair dismissal, Gemma has also to take into account fairness in the pool for selection when designing the redundancy process. The company should conduct the selection process in a fair way, for example choosing employees for redundancy based on their capabilities or level of experience.
Based on the Australian Fair Work laws, any redundant employee has rights that protect them against discrimination. For instance selecting employees because of their age, gender, color or physical status may qualify as an act of unfair dismissal. Therefore Alan’ s suggestion to target employees close to their retirement age does not qualify as a feasible approach to this redundancy plan. Instead, if Gemma goes ahead and does as instructed the company can face major employment lawsuits because of unfair dismissal.
This means that every employee has a right to work until they reach their maximum retirement age. Therefore, Gemma has to adopt objective and sound selection criteria that will observe fairness and equal treatment for all the employees within the selection pool. Another legal issue involves consulting with the employees of the company. According to the employment law against employee discrimination, an employer has to warn and consult with the employees about any potential redundancy situation. Therefore, Gemma will have to follow the right channels and consult with her employees; both the Wordsmith’ s and the newly acquired employees as well as give them prior notice of the potential redundancy situation.
Consultations with employees have can also include considering their opinions and discussing the redundancy steps; so as to minimize the negative effects that they may have to face. On the other hand, alternative employment for redundant employees has to be factored in HR planning when designing the redundancy plan. In this case, Gemma had thought of changing some of the full-time staff to casual employees; this can legally work as alternative employment for the selected individuals.
Additionally, redundant staff are legally entitled to a notice period and redundancy pay; Gemma will have to ensure that the redundant employees get the right notice, on time and their expected pay. Furthermore, the selected individuals may also need reasonable paid time off to look for future employment or alternative work arrangements. This aspect has to factor in the redundancy design process because the Human Resource department has to ensure they plan for the same adequately (Walker, 2013).
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Stroh, L.K. & Treehuboff, D. (2003). Outsourcing HR functions – when – and when – not to go outside. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 10,1: 19 – 28.
Walker, T. (2013). The Way to Go. New Law Journal , Retrieved May 17, 2015 from http://www.newlawjournal.co.uk/nlj/content/way-go
Wilson-Evered, E. & Hartel, C.E.J. (2009). Measuring attitudes to HRIS implementation: A field study to inform implementation methodology. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 47, 3: 374 – 384.