Should you ask for volunteers when making redundancies?

Andrew Masters

Partner & Head of Employment

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July 15, 2020

Categories Employment Law Updates

Part one of ‘Seven things to think about when making redundancies’ series

1. Should you ask for volunteers?

There may be employees who are willing or even eager to be selected for redundancy. Where there are sufficient volunteers then the employer will avoid the process of selection – which can be stressful and upsetting for all affected employees – and also avoid the risk of legal proceedings.

Some employers offer enhanced redundancy packages to volunteers in order to avoid having to implement compulsory redundancies – often as part of agreed redundancy procedures negotiated with trade unions. But while a reasonable employer will consider asking for volunteers for redundancy, there is no legal obligation to do so.

One reason not to offer voluntary redundancies is that very often the wrong employees volunteer. Those whose skills and experience will make it easier for them to find new work are probably not the employees that the employer will most want to make redundant.

It is important therefore for the employer to reserve the right to refuse any application for voluntary redundancy. This brings its own problems – especially when the employee is being denied what would have been a generous redundancy package.

Volunteers who are told that they cannot leave might well feel demotivated and resentful. Those who are selected for redundancy may feel more inclined to challenge the decision when they discover that other employees were willing to leave but were prevented from doing so.

Employers should therefore think carefully about whether asking for volunteers is the best approach for them to take given the particular circumstances that they face. In many cases voluntary redundancies cause more problems than they solve and are best avoided.

For legal advice about making redundancies contact Andrew Masters on 01227 763939 or email