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Communicating with retrenched staff

The Labour Relations Act requires employers to give retrenched staff members the first option to apply for new positions opening up at the company. And the same software used for recruitment can also help companies simplify staff’s re-employment and redeployment as part of the retrenchment process, it was announced earlier this week.

South African companies are finding the dreaded possibility of retrenchments becoming a reality as the implications of the global economic meltdown start to hit home.

Higher interest rates and commodity prices, a weaker rand, and slower inflows of foreign capital, which are expected to slow down local economic growth to 1.2% in 2009 from 3.8% in 2008, are forcing many companies to make lay-offs to survive.

Job for life a distant memory

While the concept of a job for life is already a distant memory, retrenchment is no less of a shock to either company owners or their employees. For employers it can be a double-whammy as they find their angst split between trying to keep the ship afloat, worrying about complying with South Africa’s labour regulations, and responsibility for employees’ welfare.

Technology can support

“Technology can provide companies with much-needed support during the retrenchment process by simplifying their communication to retrenched staff about opportunities for re-employment, in line with the labour regulation requirements,” says Mark Gray, head of online recruitment specialists, Graylink.

The Labour Relations Act requires employers to give retrenched staff members the first option to apply for new positions opening up at the company.

Matching CVs

By using the same applicant-tracking systems used to recruit outside candidates, companies can easily collect the CVs of staff re-applying for positions, match each against job openings, issue notifications of new positions relevant to the qualifications of each applicant, and keep applicants updated on the status of their applications.

The data collected in the process makes it easy to generate any number of reports for internal record keeping or reports required by the Department of Labour. For example, providing details on how many staff members have been re-employed, how many regretted, and how many of these were employment equity appointments.

In cases where staff cannot be absorbed, companies can further create a separate page in the career section of their websites, populated with the details of all these staff members, with an invitation to recruiters to mine these databases for placements.

“Losing good staff due to a tough economic climate is devastating. By staying close to them and making the retrenchment process as stress-free as possible with the help of technology, this preserves the goodwill that could see them return in better times,” concludes Gray.

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