It is important to know that the offering of Voluntary Separation must always take place within the Section 189 consultation process. Many employers make the mistake and offer outside Voluntary Separation before starting the process.
If employers offer Voluntary Separation’s outside of the consultation process, then it is a serious risk to run. Employees can argue that at the time Voluntary Separations were offered, the employer already contemplated retrenchments and should have issued the S189 (3) notice letter at that stage already. It is because it is expected of the employer to start consultations when retrenchments are being contemplated and not yet finalised.
If you need to reduce headcount for operational reasons, ask employees to resign voluntarily. Issue a staff notice, inviting employees to apply for Voluntary Separations. Include details of the Voluntary Separation you are offering in the notice.
Want to be able to control who leaves? Make sure your Voluntary Separation offer is subject to your company’s right to accept or reject an application.
If you are thinking of retrenching one department, you can limit the offer to that department. But, if you want to reduce headcount, you can extend it to your whole business.
Make the offer worthwhile to encourage employees to take the Voluntary Separation. This should be more than what they will get if you retrench them. Otherwise, they might just wait and see if you retrench them.
You can offer whatever you like as the incentive. Just make sure it makes business sense and is in line with your overall plan.
You can offer employees 6 month’s extra medical aid, pension or housing contributions.
Offer extra notice pay or bonuses in advance. Even if they are only due if the employee stayed until year-end.
Offer three weeks’ remuneration per year of service if an employee accepts within two weeks. Thereafter, two weeks per year if he accepts later.
Identify who you would like to take up the offer first if you have a preference. Make it more worth their while to offer it to them first. For example. You think those employees who are going to retire in the next couple of years should be the first to receive the offer, so make the offer only open to those within a couple of years of retirement age. Later you can extend it to other groups if you need to.