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Redundancy Policy

What are the Differences in Redundancy Policy between Human Resource Departments in the  Public and Private Sector?

Key words
1.    Redundancy
2.    Policy
3.    Public sector
4.    Private sector
5.    Human resource department

Introduction

For a long time, the private and public sectors in this country have served many purposes to the citizenry. Although these services have been good and of great benefit to the people, they have sometimes failed to meet the standards expected for various reasons. It for such and many other reasons that the private and public sector service delivery has constantly come under scrutiny, with comparisons being made between the two. This has subsequently brought to the fore the fact that the way the private sector operates and offers its services is very different from the way the public sector does. This has moved on to include not only service delivery but also policy frameworks because the operations of either sector are entrenched in their policies. This research proposal aims to investigate some of these policy differences with a particular focus being placed on the issue of redundancy in human resource departments in the two sectors.

Background Information

According to the Employment Rights Act, redundancy procedures ought to be approached in a given specified manner and the aim is to have the employee affected being compensated and so avoiding protracted legal tussles with employee unions about the legality of the process. According to the Act, an employer can only be said to have followed proper redundancy procedures if the business in which the employee was employed is being wound up for whatever reason; or the employee has been proved to be of no use to the employer, one’s position of which having become unavailable or untenable. Every human resources manager or professional is at least consciously aware of the controversy that surrounds issues of redundancy. In almost the same light, such professionals understand too well the scope of redundancy and how to go about the whole process.
That past redundancy procedures, both in the private and public sector, have more or less been marred in controversy has called for even more careful approaches at the issue. In essence, dismissal of any employee based on redundant claims must only be for reasons which have nothing to do with the employee but with the so-called establishment. Again the meaning of establishments has come in for a lot of controversy. In the past, it has been common for employers to take advantage of the term to fleece employee or to wrongfully dismiss them under claims of being redundant when actually such claims are untrue. What has been quite unclear for some time now is the reason for the existence of differences in the policies of redundancy in the private and public sectors.

Potential Literary Sources

Any research is only as good, authentic and reliable as the sources that have been used to carry it out. Sources of literature for this research will vary depending on their appropriateness and relevance to the research topic as well as how they are able to correlate the various issues under investigation. The sources are to be authentic and reliable, and capable of being foolproof. This is critical because they are to be used to draw on the exact research questions, the research hypotheses, the methodology, as well as the methods that will be used for collecting the required data. Given that data collection, research question, methodology and the hypotheses are not any less important than the ethical issues, limitations, outcomes, and other aspects of the research process, the resources used to pick on them or to come up with them ought to be thoroughly scrutinized.
One such reference is the book by Byrne (2002) called Interpreting Quantitative Data. This book is invaluable because it gives a stepwise approach to the interpretation of research data and statistical surveys. Any research needs to produce results that can be depended upon and therefore used to for decision-making. This calls for a very comprehensive way of reviewing and analyzing the data once it has been researched or collected in order to produce results. There are two main kinds of research data – qualitative and quantitative. This book is ideal because it explains how quantitative data is analyzed ad interpreted. Often, researchers have been good at collecting data but fallen short of expectation for failure to present the data in the correct way. This has often led to wrong conclusions and so passing of wrong policies.

The second resource that is very critical to the research is Employment Law and Human Resources Handbook 2010 by Davis (2010). This book goes to lengths to point out the legal and ethical issues that are deeply entrenched in the labor sector, and specifically how redundancy has been invariably used as a basis to dismiss employees from their places of work both legally and illegally. The book sheds light on some of the key underlying issues in the entire process of instituting redundancy negotiations and how they are to be carried out to completion. It also sheds  light on and highlights the various possible blind spots which can be utilized by either employers or employees (whether through their lawyers or their unions) to secure a court intervention or a court to rule either in favor of or against a given redundancy exercise. There have always been variations in the policy frameworks that have influenced redundancy proceedings in the private and public sector. This book discusses the goings-on in the private as well as public sector in the field of employment and termination of employment. This helps to exposit the underlying events in both sectors, thereby helping the researchers to underpin the differences in policy about redundancy.

Greasley (2008) underscores the importance of using technology that is appropriate in analyzing research data. This, he argues, is ideal if the results are to be processed quickly and so time saved. Writing in the book Quantitative Data Analysis using SPSS, Greasley reiterates the value of analytical research tools in the process of researching. There has to be tailored approaches not only to data collection but also data analysis so that the entire process can be successfully undertaken. That is why this book focuses on the use of SPSS, a computer-based analytical tool, to analyze quantitative data. It worth noting here that while qualitative data deals with variables that are not directly measurable – those that are continuous in nature - quantitative data deal with measurable quantities. To measure data qualitatively, it is usually only through some form of approximation. The aim of qualitative data is to draw possible meaning from collected data. On the contrary, quantitative data is used to measure specific variables to make conclusions. Such data is easier to interpret and analyze.

Still on qualitative data, Mason (2002) in the book Qualitative Researching seeks to further detail to the readers how various qualitative data can be collected, analyzed and evaluated to come up with logical conclusions. Every method of research that employs the gathering of qualitative data is most of the time seeking to show trends and demographics. Methods like interviews and case studies are focused on giving a more clearly defined description of issues than they are able to give numerical outcomes. The subject matter for this research is in need of both qualitative and quantitative data and so this book comes in handy to help in the research about qualitative variables and aspects of the research.
Another book Questionnaire Design, Interviewing And Attitude Measurement by Oppenheim (1992) helps the research by exploring one of the most commonly applied research methods – interviews. It gives the best ways which can be applied by researchers to achieve a level of success in their research by understanding what to do and how to do it in the process of conducting interviews. In addition to interviews, the book discusses the use of questionnaires as a research method, and specifically how they can be designed to be able to maximize returns given that they are very expensive to design, distribute, and collect.

Having deeper knowledge of the processes and approaches used in the entire process of human resources management can go a long way in enhancing one’s understanding of redundancy and other employee issues that are of great ramification to the society and the nation. This wide subject matter of human resource management in organizations both within the private and public sector is the basis of Leopold (2009)’s book The Strategic Managing of Human Resources. Among other human resource issues, the author goes into an in-depth analysis of redundancy claims and approaches, presenting a rather uncommon perspective about redundancy which employees, their labor unions, and employers all are obligated to understand in order to be able to avoid the pitfalls of wrongfully dealing with redundancy.

Strategy is a very important organizational tool and this book discusses the way in which human resources, the most important resources an organization can ever have, can be used by organizations as part of their main strategic tool. The book points out how this can be done, and compares the private and the public sector issues which affect human resources and how each can make good use of these resources. Redundancy issues, according to this book, tend to be different as one moves from the one sector to another owing to the fact that the private sector is just a recipient of policies instituted in the public sector and is always slower in implementing them. the public sector, being directly linked to ownership of most if not all labor laws including employee termination for whatever reason, is more instrumental in ensuring that it adheres to legal procedures regarding employee dismissal on grounds of redundancy.

A very controversial issue in employee-employer relations over time has been the fate of the employee who has to be retired or terminated under redundancy proceedings. It has been very difficult to get some employers, especially those in the private sector where there tends to be strict enforcement of labor laws, to pay their dismissed employees redundancy claims owing in part to the many disparities that tend to exist between the private and the public sector. This journal article by Molloy & Lewis (2002), known as "Acas collective conciliation: a qualitative study of the nature of collective conciliation,” is devoted to such issues as these. It discusses when and how there has to be redundancy payment for an employee who has been dismissed, and what steps one can take to avoid losing out on a legal battle in the event there arises a conflict and the matter is taken before a court of law.

Although ACAS is involved in ensuring that labor conflicts are amicably resolved, it supports the way of out of court settlements through negotiation between feuding parties. Another related resource that combines human resource management and the theory of collective bargaining is Purcell (2000)’s article, "After collective bargaining: ACAS in the age of human resource management," that is contained in Towers & Brown (eds)’s Employment Relations in Britain: 25 Years of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. The article is important for this research as it sheds more light into the issue of employment laws elsewhere and how they compare with the United States. This way, the research is able to understand the scope of the differences in policy frameworks in human resource management between the private and public sectors.

One of the most common causes of redundancy dismissals is completion of projects and the subsequent winding up or moving away of the organization which was undertaking the project. It is usually very easy for project to have so many claims for redundancy payments at the time of winding up or upon project completion. Nokes & Greenwood (2003) are emphatic that project managers ought to be prepared to deal with such issues. From start to finish, it is critical that project managers are able to work closely with project owners to ensure that there will not be issues of redundancy claims coming up. In the book The Definitive Guide To Project Management, the authors point to project management as the one area that employs many short-term employees and so is affected more by redundancy policies. This book is invaluable to this research because its insights are useful in the formulation of research hypotheses and questions, as well as in understanding the ethical issues in the entire research.
Finally, the World Bank (2004) in Labor issues in infrastructure reform: a toolkit, generally discusses labor issues from an international perspective. It focuses on having the reader understand the issues of world labor relations, including the functioning of labor markets and settlement of industrial disputes caused by employee dismissal. It portrays changes in the organization as being largely detestable especially when the changes end up with fewer employee than before, others having been dismissed for redundancy and other reasons. The book is helpful as it identifies some key causes of disparities between redundancy policies in the private and public sectors throughout the world. This is done using recent cases and past historical accounts.

Research Questions

Based on these sources, the following are the research questions that the research will need to answer:
1.    What is the scope of redundancy issues in both the private and public sector?
2.    In which of the two sectors are there more reported issues of redundancy and why?
3.    Are there any obvious or significant differences between policies frameworks on redundancy between the private sector and the public sector, and if there are, what are they and why do they exist?
4.    Given the current economic crisis, does there appear to be any changes in these differences in (3) above or have the trends remained more or less the same throughout the recession period?

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses have been proposed for the research:
1.    There are many differences in redundancy policies in human resource departments in the private and public sectors.
2.    The public sector has recorded less incidences of redundancy over the years compared to the private sector.
3.    The 2008 global economic crisis increased cases of redundancy in the private as more private sector players sought to restructure and carry out other changes in order to cope financially.
4.    A key difference between redundancy policies in human resource departments between the private and public sectors is that the latter has its redundancy policies strictly enforced while there is a lot of laxity in the former.

Objectives and Aims of the Research

1.    To find out the main differences in the policies of redundancy between the private sector and the public sector in the country.
2.    To establish the reason for the existence of these differences.
3.    To review the reasons that makes the redundancy issue to be full of controversy, and to explain why these controversies are always impacting negatively on the employee as opposed to the employer.
4.    To determine the specific policies about redundancy both in the private and public sector.
5.    To establish which differences are there between redundancy policies in the private and public sector, and to pinpoint the causes of the differences given that labor laws are to be applied universally across all the sectors of the economy.

Data Collection

The collection of data for the research for will take on a number of methods. The choice of the method is dependent on the nature of the research. For this research, both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected and some methods will have to be able to do this. Printed questionnaires will be used together with direct interviews. To supplement these two, there will be the use of secondary and primary sources of data, specifically books, case studies of companies in both the private and public sector, and session papers and company annual reports. Questionnaires will be printed with the questions similar to and/or closely related to the research questions but with others additional questions to help clarify the various responses and help the respondents give more pointed and precise responses. Then the questionnaires will be distributed to the various human resources departments in different organization across various cities in the country. They will target all employees regardless of their rank in the organizations. Others will be distributed to union employees and recently retired employees.


Interviews will be conducted on private and government policy makers in the labor market as well as on key political figures with leading policy think-tanks in the country. Finally, there will be the interviewing of various House and Senate committees that invariably deal with issues that touch on labor and the welfare of employees. To these, the same questions as are contained in the questionnaires will be posed. The questions will be designed in such a way that the respondents will be able to choose between a simple Yes or No answer by simply placing a mark at the chosen response. For interviews, however, the questions will require the respondent to give a further explanation if one feels like doing so.
For the questionnaires, this provision will not be available. Instead, there will be a blank space at the back of each page where every question can be explained further. The aim of doing this is to ensure that respondents are not made to feel that there is too much they have to do especially considering that most of them are usually very busy and might have only a limited time to fill out the questionnaires.  The primary and secondary sources will be researched from different library archives in the country, and for every organization included in the research there will be a review of their company reports.


The data will be collected in all the states of the country, with ten different organizations (five each from the private and the public sector) being chosen. For every state, ten cities will be identified where the research will be done. Usually, organizational management teams, the corporate staff, the project managers, and the other junior employees will be targeted. These organizations will also be those operating in different industries.

Methodology

Interviews are very advantageous for this research because they produce first hand information and are cheaper and easier to use than questionnaires. Interviews are also reliable sources of information unlike the questionnaires which can be filled by unintended parties. In addition, the respondents can be encouraged to speak freely, thereby increasing the reliability of the information. On the other hand, questionnaires are very effective in covering a large country as this. Because all the states in the country will be participating, sending questionnaires out to the required respondents will be a lot cheaper and time-saving than having to send out a team of interviewers to conduct oral interviews with the target people. The use of primary sources will enhance the research findings’ reliability because written accounts can sometimes offer information that might be lacking presently, especially organizational trends in the past. Primary sources not only give reliable, first-hand information but also act as proof of the popular opinion at the time when they were published.

The large sample size, covering ten organizations from each of the states of the country, means that the findings will be representative of the majority of the people. Primary and secondary sources will supplement the interviews and the questionnaires so that where there are missing links as in the case of a large number of respondents failing to submit or fill out their questionnaires, there can be information available to fill in the gaps.

Limitations, Problems, and Risks

Carrying research on such a controversial subject cannot be without any challenges. The most anticipated challenge is getting all the people targeted for interview actually taking part. Instead, a good number of them might decide to abstain for personal and/or ethical reasons. The labor laws in the country are supposed be applied universally and equally. As such, seeking to find out why there are policy differences is likely to be interpreted by some respondents, especially those who might be guilty of noncompliance, to mean an effort to expose them. On the overall, there is likelihood that the response will be low. This exposes the researchers to a risk of being shunned even by people who have initially agreed to take part. That aside, sending out questionnaires is likely to result in a lot of losses. Because postal order will be used, the anticipated losses are being projected to be as much as 10% of the questionnaires sent. To compound this, it is estimated that about 8% of the questionnaires will not get to their destination at all, while about 20% of those that get to the target people are expected to be retained deliberately or send back without relevant responses.


Designing the questionnaires is expected to take a lot of time such that there might be delays. Because the more appealing to the respondents the design of the questionnaire is the higher he chances of responding to it and sending it back, the researchers will have to manage the delays in order to get the questionnaires send out only after they have been designed as planned. The losses of time will be vey costly as will be the losses occasioned by delayed deliveries and lost questionnaires. Finally, the sample size that is to be used is just very big. Although it will make the research to be more representative of the views of the majority, it will be very difficult to collect results, analyze them, and come up with true findings.

Ethical Issues

The main ethical issue lies in the very act of investigating a matter that has the potential effect of causing some organizations and so its employees to be subjects of legal and judicial investigation for exposing what they are doing or not doing. This, while seemingly being helpful to some people, might impact others negatively. Then there is the issue of identity of the participants. It will be necessary for the interviewers and other researchers to commit not to reveal the identities of those taking part so that that any consequences that might be suffered as a result can be mitigated. Further, provisions will be made for those who will wish to make a last-minute withdrawal from the interview to do so at their own volition.
Another issue of great ethical ramification is that the researchers will be exposing themselves to great danger by investigating redundancy issues which have been controversial lately owing to the many legal battles on the same. The risk is that the researchers will be viewed as potential agents of either the law enforcement agencies or one of the two sides that are usually engaged in a dispute about employee dismissal on redundancy grounds. The issue of interviewing a large number of people in one organization at the same time can also prove to be very unethical. To avoid it, the researchers will be seeking for appointments before conducting interviews. Libraries might also be inconvenienced unless efforts are made to inform the relevant authorities of the days when the researchers will be using the facilities.

References

Byrne, D 2002. Interpreting Quantitative Data. London, Sage Publications Ltd


Davis, A 2010. Employment Law and Human Resources Handbook 2010. Workplace Law Group


Greasley, P 2008. Quantitative Data Analysis using SPSS. Open University Press


Leopold, L 2009. The Strategic Managing of Human Resources. Prentice Hall


Mason, J 2002. Qualitative Researching. London, Sage.


Molloy, D & Lewis, J 2002. "Acas collective conciliation: a qualitative study of the nature of
collective conciliation." Acas Research Paper, Acas, London,


Nokes, S & Greenwood, A 2003. The Definitive Guide To Project Management. Edinburgh,
Pearson Education Ltd


Oppenheim, AN 1992. Questionnaire Design, Interviewing And Attitude Measurement. London,
Pinter Publishers Ltd


Purcell, J 2000. "After collective bargaining: ACAS in the age of human resource management",


in Towers, B., Brown, W. (Eds), Employment Relations in Britain: 25 Years of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Blackwell, London, pp.163-80.


The World Bank 2004. Labor issues in infrastructure reform: a toolkit, Volume 1.World Bank Publications