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Line Management

A redundancy program life cycle makes different calls on a supervisor or line manager before, during and after delivering the redundancy message to the employee. Preparation is key.

A redundancy program is a traumatic time for any line manager involved. It is obviously even more traumatic for the person losing their job. They need your professional assistance. Unemployment can be forced on anyone for a variety of reasons totally outside their control. The temptation is often to blame oneself.

Normally nothing can be further from the truth. If someone loses their job through redundancy a key point to remember is that it is the job that is redundant and not the person! Shooting the messenger may well be the employee's natural reaction. The line manager needs to ensure they deliver in the most professional and sensitive manner and seek any aid and tips that they need.

Life-cycle of a redundancy program


The role is very much rumour control. Ensure that you are aware of what the proper communication channels are and any likely timing.


Communication is a separate two stage process.

  • Stage 1: Notification of Redundancy

  • Stage 2: Counselling and providing support

The redundant employee will pass through a number of stages:

  • Shock

  • Anger/denial

  • Resignation/acceptance

Timely communication is essential. Be aware of which stage the redundant employee is going through to help determine the most appropriate communications strategy.

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  • The surviving staff will need your help and support.

  • You need to watch yourself for signs of stress.

  • The effects of a redundancy program can take a year or more to be handled with sensitivity and care.


Preparation is key to making the best of a difficult situation.


  • Internal contacts for staff (eg HR department, Pensions, Union)

  • External contacts for staff (eg Job Agencies, Local Government)

  • Internal contacts for you (eg HR department, Management)

  • External contacts for you (eg Counselling, Staff Association)

  • Latest press reports

  • Company statements

  • Company Redundancy Policy
  • Company Redundancy Procedures

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Tips on delivering the actual message

When you deliver an employment termination message, it is vital to carefully word the message and to have it in writing.


  • Do double check with colleague's / Human Resources you have followed exactly all company procedures.

  • Do choose an office away from normal work locations to allow privacy.

  • Do time the discussion to allow for privacy where possible. This could be outside normal working hours.

  • Do turn up on time or in advance.

  • Do allow plenty of time for the discussion.

  • Do ensure there will be no interruptions (people, mobiles, phones, computer noises).

  • Do prepare exactly the message for the employee.

  • Do rehearse prior to the actual meeting with the employee especially if it is your first time.

  • Do use a checklist to ensure you cover all the important points.

  • Do use a witness - a Human Resources colleague or an additional management person (preferably from another office). They should take notes and act as a witness to any comments or questions that occur at the session.

  • Do give the employee the opportunity to use a witness - a colleague, friend or trade union representative.


  • Do most importantly, make totally sure the employee understands that their employment actually has been terminated.

  • Do not beat around the bush.

  • Do get to the point.

  • Do not provide excuses.

  • Do not engage in personal attacks or derogatory generalisation.

  • Do avoid any arguments regarding the decision.

  • Do be open to the employee's concerns and questions.

  • Do avoid condescension or evasion.

  • Do answer questions honestly and as completely as possible.

  • Do provide any additional information required to answer a question fully as soon as possible.

  • Do not agree with any arguments.

  • Do be sensitive to the employee's anger. This is more difficult for the employee than you.

  • Do allow the employee time to express their anger if they wish.

  • Do not agree that the company has made any mistakes or has acted incorrectly.

  • Do avoid statements along the lines of "Yes, I think it is unfair too" or "I did not want to do this" or "It's not my decision". These can come back to haunt the company later.

  • Do outline the status of employee benefits. Briefly explain any benefits to which the individual is entitled, or provide information on how the employee can obtain this information promptly.

  • Do discuss references. Explain what employment references the company will provide and how.

  • Do consider providing a reference/employment history letter to avoid future confusion or disagreements.

  • Do be sensitive.

  • Do prepare for the worst. This is an extreme situation and people under great stress may have extreme reactions. Do advise security in advance and request their advice. Workplace violence is all too common. Do request advice from the legal department regarding appropriate responses. Do consider if escorting off the premises is appropriate.

If there is a claim for unfair dismissal the fairness and professionalism that you exhibit at a termination session can be critical to support the company's position that it acted for business reasons and was at all times fair and reasonable in its decision-making process.

The information on this page is intended to provide a general guide. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.

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