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Plenty of businesses need to make major workplace changes, especially in our current economic climate.

This process (commonly called restructuring) centres around changing how the work in the business is done and by which role(s). It’s not about the people performing the roles but rather about getting the right roles set up in the right way to make the company run more efficiently or deliver its products or services more effectively.

Following the correct process is essential to make the changes smoothly and to minimise any legal risk.

All modern awards and registered agreements have a consultation process that you must follow if the changes are likely to result in redundancies. You must present the proposed changes to employees and seek and consider their feedback before the changes are implemented.

There are 8 main steps in the restructuring process:

  • Preparation - carefully document the commercial issue behind the changes and the expected impacts so you can present the information to affected employees.
  • First meeting with employees - communicate the proposed changes and why you need to make them.
  • Employee’s consideration period - give employees time to absorb the information and prepare a response. Anything from 2 days to 2 weeks is reasonable.
  • Second meeting with employees - this is the chance for staff to give their side of the story.
  • Employer’s consideration period - you must take the employees’ feedback into consideration, even if you decide to continue with the original proposal.
  • Third meeting with employees - present your 'fair and reasonable’ decision on the changes and how you considered staff feedback. This is best done with employees individually.
  • Implementation - rolling out the changes can take time, depending on their scale and whether you are redeploying people, making some redundant, and/or hiring new staff.
  • Survivor management - look after the people who remain with the business (and new employees) to minimise any impact on workplace culture and productivity.

This article looks at the restructuring process in detail and highlights potential issues and common hurdles.

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