The expression “spill and fill redundancies” is a colloquial name for a process undertaken by some employers when economic or other operational circumstances require a reduction in employee numbers in the whole or a section of a business. The process involves the declaring all of the affected positions vacate and requiring those who wish to apply to fill the newly created positions to do so. This is a perfectly legitimate method of dealing with mass redundancies and has a powerful advantage for employers because if managed competently it has the potential to facilitate the employer selecting the best candidates on merit. Those employees who are not re-employed are entitled to statutory redundancy payments.*
One potential disadvantage is that the best employees, whether through productive or other measures, may elect not to apply for a job on the assumption that their credentials are sufficient to guarantee them employment elsewhere and they can take the money and run, rather defeating one of the employer’s objectives. Spill and fill redundancy projects are often associated with voluntary redundancy packages which are intended to narrow down the field.
“The Court accepts that the Respondent was confronted with significant external factors, which impacted upon its profitability and viability, and that it engaged in a process of restructuring the organisation. The Court further accepts that it is the prerogative of an employer to rearrange its organisational structure, to reorganise positions and the skills, responsibilities and duties, which comprise that position, and redistribute these amongst other employees: Jones v Department of Energy and Minerals (1995) 60IR 304.”; see Heraud v Roy Morgan Research Ltd (2016) FCCA 185 delivered 5 February 2016 per Jones J