College managers forced to sack staff are advised to choose the middle of the day, the middle of the week and an office where smoking is allowed.
These tips are included in guidelines published this week by the Association for College Management and Colleges' Employers' Forum, in response to the growing numbers of redundancies in the further education sector. They are designed to ease the potential stress and trauma of redundancy for both manager and employee, concentrating on the "people" aspect rather than the process.
The document states: "It is hoped that after reading these guidelines managers will be able to understand the redundancy process and undertake their role within it without feeling threatened or unable to cope. It is unfortunate that the current financial climate in further education makes these guidelines necessary."
While they recommend that where possible colleges should pay for management training in handling redundancies, the guidelines include recommendations for breaking the news.
First thing in the morning, last thing at night and just before a teaching session were generally not considered the best times, the document states. Similarly Mondays and Fridays were not usually advised. Managers should choose a neutral, comfortable and unthreatening venue where smokers would be able to light up.
Employees taking news of redundancy so badly that they threatened to sabotage equipment should be escorted from the premises and told to stay at home until they felt calmer. Colleagues should be advised to treat the sacked employee "as normally as possible but with greater sensitivity".
The guidelines also include notes on severance packages, pension entitlements and "trawling for volunteers for redundancy".
They have the support of the Association of Principals of Colleges, the Department for Education and Employment, legal advisors Eversheds, the Further Education Funding Councils for England and Wales and KPMG Career Consultancy Services.