Good consultation is key to managing staff redundancies

A communications firm says using widespread employee information and
consultation has helped it successfully manage redundancies.

Satellite communications company Inmarsat used a system of information and
consultation to cut its workforce, well in advance of European legislation that
will demand employers discuss business issues with staff.

The company used a committee of managers and staff to formulate a policy
when it recently needed to make 75 employees redundant.

Debbie Jones, vice-president of business infrastructure at Inmarsat, said
the Internal Shareholders Partnership was provided with all the details on the
situation, including the financial figures.

"They had to actively formulate the policy the company was going to
use. They weren’t just consulted; they had to contribute to the way it was
being done.

"It was the first time they’d had to look at a negative subject, but
through their discussions and negotiations, 99 per cent of the redundancies
were voluntary," she said.

The internal partnership was set up in 2000, and consists of 10 senior
managers and 10 elected staff members who meet regularly to discuss all aspects
of the business.

"It has achieved a level of trust that few businesses are able to
reach, but with that comes a weight of responsibility on the company,"
Jones said.

The Information and Consultation Directive comes into force in 2005,
requiring employers to consult more fully with staff on issues that affect

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