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restructures - top tips

2 December 2015

Unfortunately most schools are facing the tough challenge of reduced funding but increased costs and as a result are having to look at restructures to ‘balance the books'. HR Consultant, Tom Wallace offers nine top tips to consider when planning a restructure.

1. Planning

Design your ideal staffing structure, regardless of the individuals you have in post now and then work back from that position. In some cases this can be an opportunity to bring in efficiencies.

2. Business case

When the announcement is made to staff, you should be able to provide a business plan which is absolutely clear on why the restructure is necessary. This is likely to be on both cost and efficiency grounds. Every member of staff should be able to open the business case and know clearly whether they are affected and if they are, what they can expect from the process. Suggested contents includes:

  • introduction, background and rationale for changes (curriculum change, fall in pupil roll, changes to roles or financial constraints)
  • proposal and numbers and type of staff affected
  • consultation
  • avoiding redundancy
  • selection criteria – interview or scoring matrix
  • voluntary redundancy
  • time scales
  • redundancy payments
  • support for displaced staff.

3. Meaningful consultation

Factor in enough time to have a genuine consultation with staff. The need for staff cuts may well be inevitable but there will be examples where staff can have a valuable contribution to the detail of the proposed responsibilities of the post in the new structure.

Typically this would result in 1-2-1 meetings between the affected staff and their unions and a representative for the school.

4. Timetable

Don’t get caught out by teacher notice periods. You have to give notice of the redundancy the half term before you want the redundancy to take effect, having completed the consultation and dismissal hearings before then.

5. Be clear on the costs

Ensure you understand your policy and whether it allows for enhanced redundancy pay. If you are looking at making members of the LGPS redundant who are aged over 55 you will have to pay the pension strain. This can be extremely costly so find out from your fund the extent of this before proceeding.

6. Staff pooling

If you are reducing the number of staff carrying out a certain role then you will need to decide who is in the ‘pool’. This is an area that unions may want to dispute depending on who they represent but as long as you can objectively justify the pool that you have set then that will be a reasonable decision which you can insist on.

7. Selection method

Ideally you will interview applicants for the remaining posts. Depending on the number of individuals and the seniority of the post involved, it is possible to select some by skills matrix only. Whichever selection method if used, you must be able to justify it objectively. Where there are areas which could be subjective (including some elements of assessment of performance, commitment to the school) have more than one person score each applicant to ensure objectivity. Never include any absence which could be related to a disability.

8. Hearings

Here you need to check your policy. Commonly, policies require dismissal hearings with governors, giving the employee the right to make representations at the hearing prior to the decision to dismiss. The outcome of an appeal may impact on other individuals that were previously not at risk. Once the decision to dismiss is taken, you should issue notice in accordance with the employee’s contract of employment. During any period of notice, you should look to see if there are any suitable alterative posts that could be offered to the employee as an alternative to redundancy, and employees should be allowed reasonable time off to look for work.

9. Check your funding agreement

Depending on when you converted and whether the school is sponsored you might have a provision that the EFA will fund part of the costs of your restructure. If so, notify the EFA straight away. 

If you would like support with a restructure, please contact us.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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