ER Strategies has operated since 1999 and in that time, we have had clients approach us with many different situations. These situations have led us to develop a number of strategies through understanding what works and what doesn’t. One such strategy that we have used over and over again is the ‘Champion Method’. Designed by ER Strategies’ Director, the strategy increases the employee’s input in a redundancy process to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome between the employee and employer.
Read on, or watch the full video here.
The overall strategy is based on the requirements a business must meet in order to avoid an unfair dismissal when making an employee redundant. These steps are outlined under the Fair Work Act and are:
- The redundancy is genuine
- The employer has followed the consultation provisions of the applicable award or enterprise agreement
- It would not have been reasonable for the employee to be redeployed within the business or associated entity
It is crucial that these three points are adhered to because if they aren’t the Champion Method will have no impact on minimising the risk.
When looking to make an employee redundancy there must be a genuine reason. This means that an employee’s job is no longer required to be performed by anyone due to changes in the employer’s business. Factors such as changing demands, improvements in technology, or economic impacts can all be genuine reasons leading to an employee’s redundancy.
When deciding on making an employee redundant, there is a requirement to consult with the employee that will be impacted. Specifically, the employee must be provided with information about the effect of the proposed changes in the workplace, which must be in writing. There also must be a discussion about steps taken to avoid and minimise negative effects on the employee plus a consideration of the employees’ ideas.
The last requirement to avoid any risk of an unfair dismissal is assessing whether or not it would reasonable to redeploy the employee anywhere in the business or associated entities. It is important to not just assume an employee would say no to potential redeployment based on things like location or salary. Give the employee the option, if there are any, and let them reject the roles.
The Champion Method
Once you have a firm understanding of the redundancy process you can then incorporate the Champion Method, which is essentially a variation of the consultation process. In the redundancy guidelines, it is suggested that consultation should happen between the employer and employee impacted by the redundancy, which takes place after a decision has been made. With the Champion Method that we use at ER Strategies, we encourage having a consultation before any decision is made.
There are a number of key benefits an employer will receive from consulting prior to they make the decision, and it will also benefit the employee too! Firstly, meeting and discussing a possible redundancy, prior to making a decision, will give an employer an opportunity to gauge the response the employee has. And because no decision has actually been made, the employee cannot take any legal action off the back of it.
If an employee is receptive to the idea of redundancy, you can move forward without a problem or any stress and ensure that all parties a comfortable with the agreement. Conversely, if an employee pushes back against the idea, you can either work with the employee to find a way to keep them employed, or you will know to ensure that your redundancy process is compliant as the employee may be more likely to take legal action.
Can you apply the Champion Method to other situations?
Yes, you can! Whilst the three requirements for redundancy aren’t applicable to other situations, the main principle of consulting the employee before making a firm decision can be utilised. One area where it is particularly useful can be performance management. If an employee is underperforming, you can have an initial conversation to discuss possible options moving forward, such as a performance management plan or them exiting the business. Again, if an employee is receptive to the idea of exiting the business, you could incentivise it by offering them a redundancy package (with them signing a deed to prevent them from legal action). But if they don’t react well to the conversation, you will know that their performance and employment will have to be carefully managed.
Does the Champion Method always work?
The Champion Method isn’t a ‘cookie cutter’ method designed to arrive at a specific outcome. It is more of a principle designed to give the employer extra information in a decision-making process, specifically for redundancy. The Champion Method can only not work if the employee isn’t willing to engage in the initial meeting. If they do engage, regardless of their reaction, an employer will be able to gather information that can assist them in making their decision.
At ER Strategies, we don’t give out textbook answers to every situation. We try to achieve better outcomes for our clients and this can often involve looking after their employees where this is warranted as well. Call us on 1300 55 66 37 if you would like to find out more about our services.