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Impact of Technology on Employment

Robots are building cars, making products and packing them and have been doing this for a long time. However, technology is changing the way we also shop with the advent of e-commerce which has seen retailers struggling to compete with for some time.  Amazon has further shifted the balance by recently opening a grocery shop in Seattle called Amazon Go, where the only job people have is to re-stock the shelves and ID people buying alcohol.

Employees being replaced by robots or automated systems are subsequently being made redundant  A fair procedure has to be followed otherwise a purported redundancy can become an unfair dismissal

There is a required consultation phase, but the law does not require employers to justify their business reasons for making redundancies. Provided that redundancy is the true reason for dismissal an Employment Tribunal will not look behind the business decision to see how the redundancy situation arose.  It must however involve a reduction in staff numbers, and cannot be a fair reason for dismissing a particular employee and replacing them with someone else.

It is a requirement of a fair process that consultations are held with employees before any firm decisions are made.

The consultation should consider the following:

  • How individuals will be selected for redundancy
  • The departments they will be selected from
  • Alternative jobs
  • Options the company and employees can suggest to avoid the need for redundancy

It is vital that a company carries out a fair and thorough redundancy process or they might face heavy compensation payments of up to a year’s salary per employee if  they have been unfairly dismissed following an unfair redundancy procedure.

If your business is going though a process of change and you need legal advice, please contact Geoffrey Ellis, Director and Head of Employment on 01527 912912 or email Geoffrey.ellis@thomasguise.co.uk

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