At times, a review may result in employees being surplus to the requirements of the school - that is, certain positions are declared redundant. The announcement to the employees concerned can be difficult. However, it should be straightforward and frank, and the reasons, be they economic, technological, or other, should be explained.
Redundancy means the dismissal of an employee because the position becomes superfluous to the employer's needs. If the employer intends to replace the employee with another in the same position, there is no redundancy, and the board may find it is subject to a claim for unjustified dismissal.
In a true redundancy situation, the employer terminates the employee's position for specific reasons such as a change in financial circumstances. If a board can offer an employee another position at similar status, pay, and conditions to that of the position lost but the employee decides to resign, there is no redundancy. However, if the board offers the employee a less favourable position and the employee elects to resign, it could in some situations still be considered a redundancy.
Case law has established that redundancy is a dismissal. For an employer to justify dismissal, it must show that it acted in a fair and reasonable manner. A fair and reasonable manner includes consulting with employees, giving adequate notice of impending redundancy, considering alternatives to redundancy, and paying redundancy compensation unless provisions in employment agreements are specific about alternative provisions.
For example, the teachers' agreement may provide for alternatives such as a supernumerary period, retraining, or a severance payment.
The collective agreements of non-teaching staff tend to provide for redundancy compensation where employees are made redundant because their position has disappeared and no alternative position can be offered.
If a board is faced with a redundancy issue, it is strongly advised they contact their Employment Adviser.
Considering contracting out/contracting in the work of caretakers, cleaners and canteen staff?
These workers have some provisions which provide protection under the Employment Relations Act 2000. We recommend first reading about Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act 2000[DOCX 49.97 KB] (joint guidance from NZSTA, E Tū and the Ministry of Education) and then contacting NZSTA’s Employment Advisory and Support Centre for further advice before beginning the process for contracting out or in of these employees.