Someone I talked to recently questioned whether they had an employee duty of care to provide outplacement support. While some may argue a payment in lieu satisfies this position, there is debate around what is the employer’s duty of care ?

Restructuring and redundancy situations are often complicated and there are many issues an employer needs to consider. In the case above, the employer was faced with the option to make a payment in lieu of outplacement to redundant employees, or of switching to an outplacement support model funded by the organisation. Of course, employees can choose to spend the payment on outplacement support but they can also spend it on other needs. Where the latter option is chosen, has the employer provided a duty of care ?

Managing workplace change

In my conversations with organisations using outplacement services I often hear employers say:

  • We recognise we have a duty of care to our employees;
  • We take our corporate and social responsibility seriously; or
  • We need to look like we’re doing the right thing as an organisation.

While they’re all valid points, what stands out is this idea around an employee duty of care. When redundancy is forced on an employee, organisations have an obligation to provide professional support – outplacement is a key part of the solution.

Why outplacement support?

A well-structured outplacement support program provides transitioning employees with a number of key areas of support; some of which are not always obvious.

Quality outplacement delivers:

1. One to one support

Redundancy can mean different things to different people depending on what’s going on with that person’s life. An experienced and qualified consultant will assist the employee make sense of the event and help identify the best path forward.

2. Structure for the employee

This is particularly important to the employee immediately after they cease employment.

3. A source of independent and objective advice

Access to a consultant with experience that can guide, support, and challenge their thinking – whilst always being a source of useful information.

4. Confidence

Confidence helps employees construct the story of their skills and experience, ensuring they can articulate their abilities to potential employers.

Do you have a duty of care?

Organisations have a duty of care to their employees. This entails providing them with direction and care when faced with redundancy. Sure, you can always