As part of the consultation, you will normally be invited to a one-to-one meeting to discuss how your employer’s proposals will affect you personally. This is also an important opportunity to ask further questions about how the proposals will be implemented and the impact they will have on your colleagues and the service.
There is no automatic right to trade union representation at these one-to-one meetings, although your employer’s policy may allow your MiP rep to attend with you. If not, try to take a colleague as a witness and for support. If you’re invited to a group meeting, it’s important to attend and take notes of the discussion.
If you will not be accompanied by an MiP rep, this section offers advice on what to expect from your one-to-one meeting, how to prepare and what questions to ask.
Preparing for your one-to-one
Find and review these documents, so you can assess how the proposals might affect you personally and identify anything that’s still unclear:
- the consultation proposals
- your employer’s organisational change policy – this may give you more rights than the legal minimum
- your employer’s pay protection policy
- your employer’s mileage policy
- your employer’s equality and diversity policy and any equality impact assessment of the proposals
- the existing and proposed organisation charts
- the employer’s selection criteria and scoring systems for voluntary or compulsory redundancies, if applicable
Also, try to think about the wider impact of the proposals. For example:
- Are the aims of the consultation exercise being met? What more should your employer be doing?
- How will the proposals affect patient safety and care?
- Are there any health and safety issues for staff and/or patients?
- How will the proposals affect disabled, women and BAME staff? Has your employer carried out an equality impact assessment?
After considering your personal situation and the wider context, use this guide to help you prepare a list of questions to ask your employer at the meeting.
At the one-to-one meeting
First, ask your employer to spell out the objectives of the consultation exercise and explain how it will work. For example:
- What are the boundaries between consultation and negotiation?
- What can you influence through feedback?
- Will notes be taken and made available after the meeting?
- Will the agreed next steps and timescales be confirmed in writing?
- Who can you contact for further information and updates?
Then, work through your list of pre-prepared questions (see below for further examples of questions you may want to ask).
Make sure you discuss your preferences. For example, do you want to stay in the same or a similar post, or consider redundancy? Would you be like to be redeployed? What suitable alternative roles are available?
Make it clear to your employer that your preferences at this stage are non-binding. If, for example, you ask for a redundancy quotation or information about redeployment, explain that you are only exploring your options.
Avoid making any final decisions at the meeting. If you feel pressured, request an adjournment and ask MiP for advice before rescheduling the meeting. You should also contact MiP as soon as possible if you feel you have been unfairly treated, for example on the grounds of maternity or disability.
Your employer's responsibilities
During the one-to-one, your employer should be able to answer any outstanding questions you have about the proposed changes, how they will affect you and the consultation process.
THE CONSULTATION PROCESS
Your employer should:
- Explain the purpose of the meeting
- Outline the consultation process, feedback procedure and how further information will be provided
- Explain the reasons for the proposed changes
- Tell you when the consultation ends and when the changes would take effect
- Show how they will communicate with you, and nominate someone to answer your queries as and when they arise
- Explain the role of MiP and other unions in the process
THE IMPACT OF THE CHANGES
Your employer should:
- Explain what alternative proposals were considered and whether you can still suggest changes, for example to avoid job losses or re-banding
- Confirm if the re-organisation is being treated as a potential redundancy situation
- Tell you how many and which jobs are at risk
HOW THE CHANGES AFFECT YOU
Your employer should:
- Explain how the proposals would affect your current job
- Outline the options available to you, such as redeployment, voluntary redundancy or early retirement
- Confirm the details and timing of any proposed transfer to a new employer, and explain the effect on your employment conditions and pension
THE SELECTION PROCESS
Your employer should:
- Tell you why you have (or have not) been included in the selection pool for new jobs
- Explain the selection criteria, who agreed them and how, and when and by whom they will be applied
- Explain your right to challenge the criteria and/or your score as part of the consultation process
Your employer should:
Provide details of the support available to you. Depending on your circumstances, this may include:
- career planning
- CV writing
- interview skills training
- occupational health support
- independent financial and pensions advice
- In a redundancy situation, explain your right to paid time off to look for a new job
- Encourage you to seek advice and ask questions at any time during the consultation process
Questions to ask at your one-to-one
Make sure you ask your employer to explain how the changes will affect any specific personal circumstances, such as caring responsibilities, flexible working arrangements, restrictions on commuting distances, and occupational health requirements or adjustments. You should also ensure your employer clearly explains the timescales that will apply to you personally.
You should also consider asking the following questions if they apply to your situation and haven’t yet been answered satisfactorily in the consultation process:
- Is there a clear clinical rationale for the proposed changes?
- What specific policies are being applied?
- Has the employer undertaken a risk assessment to ensure the new arrangements are safe?
- What alternative arrangements have been considered?
CHANGES TO JOBS
- When will job descriptions and grading information be available for posts in the new structure?
- Have new posts been subjected to a proper job evaluation process?
- How will the allocation of posts and ‘slotting in’ work?
- Have the selection criteria been agreed and evaluated for equality purposes?
- How will the selection process work (e.g. interview or another process)
- Will you or your colleagues be transferred to a new employer? If so, will they be outside the NHS? How will this affect your employment conditions and NHS pension?
REDEPLOYMENT AND ‘SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE EMPLOYMENT’
- What ‘suitable alternative employment’ is available and how will you be informed about suitable posts?
- What are the options for redeployment and how will it work?
- Will redeployed staff have pay protection if they’re moved to lower banded jobs? How long will it last?
- Will any agreed or existing flexible working arrangements (or reasonable adjustments) stay in place for redeployed staff? If not, why not?
- What are the trial period arrangements if you’re redeployed?
- Can you reduce or increase your working hours?
- Will your new post affect any special class or Mental Health Officer status you hold?
- Are there any posts available outside of your directorate or department?
- Is voluntary redundancy available?
- Are compulsory redundancies likely? If so, how many?
- What early retirement options are available? For example, can staff who are over the minimum pension age retire early and use their redundancy payment to take an unreduced pension? (You may wish to take independent financial advice before deciding to take any pension benefits early.)
SUPPORT & TRAINING
- What support is available to gain the skills and qualifications required for a new post?
- Is there any option to completely retrain? How will this be funded?
- What support is available for CV writing, interview guidance and time off to look for work, attend interviews or training?
Your employer may ask to speak “without prejudice” or have a “protected conversation” in which they set out the terms of an offer to leave – usually a severance payment as part of a settlement agreement. We urge you to talk to MiP before accepting any such offer. Tell your employer you need time to take advice and consider the proposal – they should not pressure you to sign anything there and then.
After the meeting
You should receive a written account of what was discussed at the meeting. Check this for accuracy and raise any disagreements in writing. Otherwise, it may be difficult to challenge your employer’s account later.
Insist that your employer confirms any offers and answers any outstanding questions in writing. Request a further meeting if your concerns have not been dealt with satisfactorily.
Ensure your employer sticks to all the commitments they make during the meeting, including the agreed timetable. Keep a record of any subsequent meetings or correspondence. Ask MiP for advice on any further proposals before agreeing to discuss them with your employer.
When you need help from MiP, simply email us at: MemberAdvice@miphealth.org.uk. We will arrange for our casework co-ordinator, national officer or local rep to advise you.
Find out why consultations happen, how to prepare and what to look out for.
Learn about your employer's legal obligations to consult you and trade unions about proposals for organisational change and redundancies.