Redundancy Selection Matrix

With redundancy activity unfortunately an inevitable consequence of COVID 19, as a number of businesses are unable to re-open or are now operating with fewer employees, it is critical that the redundancy process is managed in line with legislation and best HR practice to ensure that additional costs do not arise for employers for unfair dismissal claims due to unfair selection for redundancy.

This article looks at one key aspect of the redundancy process when it is necessary to select a number of employees from a pool of employees, often when they are doing the same or similar roles and the overall number of roles within that area/department needs to be reduced. In this case, a Selection Matrix is often used to enable the selection process, and can be a fair and transparent selection method if carried out correctly. In this regard, it is critical that the selection criteria used are business based, and can be objectively justified and verified. It is also important that there are a number of different relevant criteria used and that the criteria are not too narrowly focussed and could potentially be seen to disadvantage specific employees who could never met the criteria.

Useful selection criteria to consider for inclusion in a matrix may include:

  • Qualifications and relevant training completed for role.
  • Specific skills held and track record in undertaking role e.g. project management, customer engagement, sales performance, IT skills etc.
  • General performance record, provided performance data has been documented consistently across all employees in the pool from formal performance reviews.
  • General or specialist skills of benefit to organisation e.g. additional languages, Technology capability.

In all cases, there must be data and evidence to back up the score applied to any of the criteria used.

The following subjective type of criteria such not be used:

  • Ambition
  • Energy
  • Dependability
  • Attitude

In addition, the use of attendance and disciplinary criteria should be used with caution. The use of attendance records has the potential to be problematic from an equality perspective, and statutory based periods of absences (e.g. maternity, carers leave etc) should not be taken into account, nor certain periods of sick leave, that could lead to a claim of discrimination on disability or family/gender grounds for example.

A case involving the redundancy of a Tus Supervisor from a local development company earlier this year specifically highlighted that both disciplinary record and “attitude” had been subjectively used within a selection matrix, and whilst the employee had succeeded in getting work soon after his redundancy, and did not suffer any financial loss, he was still awarded four weeks pay as compensation. It should be noted as well that it also had been determined that a genuine redundancy situation did exist in this case, but it was the selection process that led to the dismissal beng declared unfair (ADJ – 00020033).

If disciplinary records are being used, it is important that only current sanctions that are not under appeal are considered and no spent or disputed sanctions should be included.

During the redundancy process, it is also critical that employees get an opportunity to comment on the matrix as applied to them, in case there is information they disagree with or additional information about their skills and capability that may not have been available to their employer.

In summary, the Selection Matrix must allow an objective, evidence based, verifiable scoring of relevant criteria to take place, that will stand up to scrutiny and appeal if an employee disagrees with their selection for redundancy, or indeed if subjected to further scrutiny at the Workplace Relations Commission.