Retrenchment is a dismissal for operational reasons and is classified as a no-fault dismissal, explains the Labour Law for Managers Handbook.
This means your employee isn't accountable for his current circumstances. And, as a result, there's an increased burden on you to ensure a fair and proper process during retrenchments.
While this isn't an easy process, there are methods you can use to make retrenchment just a little bit easier on your employees and your business.
Six tips to make retrenchment easier on your employees AND your business
#1: Have all the required information at hand
Try to answer your employees' questions with informed answers. Don't guess. And don't be evasive. You're legally required to supply your reasons for retrenchment.
Remember, information is the key to constructive consultations regarding retrenchments.
#2: Don't prolong the process
Retrenchment will have a major psychological and lifestyle impact on your employee. Don't allow a prolonged process to heighten anxiety. This could have a detrimental impact on productivity and staff morale.
#3: Personally inform each affected employee of the possibility of retrenchment
It's unacceptable to announce the possibility of retrenchment at a general meeting or as an item on an agenda. There will be many and varied emotional responses to the news of impending retrenchment and you must give your employee due respect during the process.
4: Be generous with time off
Allow for affected employees to attend interviews, financial counselling and other personal affairs during working hours. You can't expect retrenches to continue with 'business as usual'.
#5: Keep accurate records
Keep records of all relevant notices, fund records, employee letters and statements as well as meeting minutes related to actual or possible retrenchments.
#6: Don't forget employees who haven't been retrenched
Address the anxiety and 'survivor-guilt' amongst employees who aren't directly affected by the retrenchments.
Offer psychological counselling for those who've been 'left behind' and who feel they might benefit from this type of support.
Retrenchments are never easy to deal with! But, using these tips will help you make this dreaded process a little bit easier on your employees and your business.