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I'm not sure if 'redundant' is a term in use in the US. It refers to a situation where you have to terminate the employment of one or more people not because they are not doing their job to an acceptable standard but because a downturn in trade means you no longer need so many employees or a change in the way you run your business means that the particular role filled by that employee is no longer required.

I'm not looking for legal advice here - I'm operating under UK law so it would probably be different in any case. Instead what I am seeking is shared experience from other small business owners who have had to make staff redundant and looking more at the 'emotional' side of things for want of a better word.

My situation is that I currently have three employees. There has been a local downturn in trade in the town where my business is based due to a major employer closing with associated closures of other businesses. Add to this the general recession and I'm now over-staffed and struggling to pay wages. I need to make one or more of my staff redundant if the business is to survive.

I've been putting off this decision partly because of the difficulties of giving notice to one or more members of staff in a very small team. We work together in a fairly small space day by day. Inevitably we have a quite close personal relationship with each other. I'm feeling very daunted by the idea of telling one employee or two that they are no longer needed. I have kept my staff informed of how things are going and warned them that I may not be able to keep all of them on, but actually taking the step I'm finding very difficult.

I'd appreciate hearing about how people in similar situations have coped. It is not just telling the person(s) involved, it is how the team survives the notice period. If you have to make someone redundant is it better to make them work out their notice period or better to pay them for this period but not expect them to (or rather forbid them to)work during this period? Is the latter kinder or does it just add insult to injury?

Needless to say I've been in potential redundancy situations during my own employed career but the decisions were always being made by people far off and implemented by unfortunates nearer at hand. I'm finding it difficult being both judge and jury!

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