Advice and Tips
Downsizing: How to prepare yourself for a meeting if you’ve been dismissed
Before letting employees go, employers must meet with them to discuss the reasons behind this decision. Keep reading to get advice about how this meeting should be conducted and how you can best prepare yourself for it.
What’s this kind of meeting about?
Before employers hand out dismissal notices to employees, they must discuss their decision with them. This rule appears in The Working Environment Act § 15-1, which is why this meeting’s often called a “15-1 meeting.” Both the reasons for dismissal and the names of employees selected for dismissal must be discussed at this time.
If you’re called into this kind of meeting, you should bring along your union representative (or another support person if no representative is available). This is because union representatives sit in on these meetings to make sure you get the chance to give your input after your employer has told you why you’re being dismissed.
Your employer must weigh the organization’s need to dismiss you against the disadvantage to you of being dismissed. That’s why it’s important that you express every bit of information you feel might be relevant to this decision. Your employer has to write minutes from this meeting; they provide an official record of your meeting and may be needed in case the dismissal process takes longer time than first expected.
It’s a procedural mistake if employers dismiss employees without having a meeting with them first; however, this doesn’t necessarily make the dismissal itself invalid. At the same time, the procedural mistake may be significant for evaluating if the dismissal is justified or not in addition to the amount of compensation that might be offered to employees.
Your employer’s explanation
During your meeting, your employer must explain why you’re being considered redundant.
An employer must explain the entire downsizing and reorganizing process to you, both the criteria being used for employee selection and the company divisions that have been targeted for dismissal. The term “company divisions” means a certain part of the organization where a downsizing process is going to take place. Tekna’s opinion is that «company divisions» should include the entire organization; yet what often happens is that an employer narrows this focus, including only a few departments or sections.
The objective criteria that are normally used to decide which employees are to be dismissed are competency (both formal and practical), seniority and other factors. Selection must take place after a comprehensive evaluation of these criteria, where competency is the main factor.
Your employer must inform you about any other employee(s) with whom you’re being compared; they must also tell you if they’ve considered transferring you to a different position.
Employee input at the meeting
You’re allowed to offer your opinions, comments and input with regard to your employer’s decision as well as explain any other factors if relevant. You can ask your employer to document the evaluations that have been made about you and your work performance.
You should ask how your employer’s evaluated your competency, and if you’ve been evaluated in comparision with the entire organization – or if this has happened in comparison with only certain departments or sections.
If you disagree with your employer’s evaluation of your competency level, you should speak up and explain why you disagree. It might also be a good idea to bring along your updated CV to this meeting.
While at the meeting, if your employer tells you that they’re dissatisfied with your competency and/or work performance, and if they haven’t taken this up with you at an earlier date, you should point this out. Ask for documentation if they claim that they’ve already discussed this matter with you.
You can ask your employer to tell you who it is you’re being compared with at work, and in which departments or sections. If your employer doesn’t wish to say who this individual/these individuals is/are, you yourself can name certain individuals you feel you outperform based on the chosen criteria. If there are other factors that your employer is unaware of, it’s important that you tell them about these factors during your meeting. “Other factors” can include caregiving responsibilities, illness and other things that put you as an employee in a very difficult position if you’re dismissed. Make sure that this information is recorded in the meeting minutes.
Before your meeting…
you should do the following:
- Contact your union representative (or someone else you trust) and ask them if they can attend the meeting with you.
- Ask your union representative which selection criteria your employer has said they will use to select redundant employees.
- Think about which company employee(s) you feel should be compared with you.
- Prepare your questions and other input.
- Go through your previous performance reviews to update yourself on the feedback you’re received at these reviews.
- Update your CV so you can refer to it if needed during your meeting.
Checklist for the meeting itself:
- What does my employer say is the reason why I’m being dismissed?
- Has my employer used the entire organization as a selection area?
- Which selection criteria has my employer used to select redundant employees?
- How has my employer evaluated my competency level?
- Who has evaluated me in relation to the selection criteria, and who has compared me with other employees?
- Ask to be given any documentation of evaluations made of you and your work performance.
- If you disagree with your employer’s evaluation of your competency – have you told them this and said why you disagree?
- Which actual positions/departments have you been compared to?
- Who have you been compared to?
- Have you said which actual individuals you feel you can outperform based on the criteria and why you feel this way?
- If the fact that your employer isn’t satisfied with your competency level’s brought up and you weren’t aware of this before, have you said that this is new information and asked for documentation showing when this topic has supposedly been brought up with you before?
- Have you asked if temporary workers have been hired by the company, and, if so, the reason why this has happened?
- Have you told your employer about any other factors pertaining to your situation?
After the meeting:
- Have meeting minutes that include your input been written?