Redundancy talks to be cut from 90 to 45 days

Larger employers (it more frequently affects larger employers) who want to dismiss 100 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less, must begin a consultation at least 90 days before the first dismissal takes effect.

The government is proposing to reduce that period to 45 days. Anything that appears to compromise employees existing rights brings predictable protest.

Looming redundancy is an extremely unsettling experience for employer and employee. The fact that a consultation process may require the process to continue for 90 days is not necessarily in the interests of either.

In my experience employers do not consider redundancies lightly. They recognise the damage the process does to a business and despite the legal requirement to consult at the earliest opportunity they invariably leave it as long as possible before consulting. They usually live in hope that redundancies can be avoided. Consulting may reduce the overall redundancies (which is what it is intended to do) but until the process is concluded the uncertainty creates dysfunctional relationships. That damages the business. It is unsurprising that in past decades we have talked of “waves of redundancies” as each redundancy process made a repeat more likely.

Smaller employers with fewer resources can conclude the process in 30 days, so why can larger organisations not do the same?

To suggest the law is changing in order to make it easier to sack workers is simply inflammatory and the Business Secretary should have known better. No, the law should change so businesses can get on with what they are there to do; and that includes providing employment. The sooner a redundancy process is concluded the less likely it is to be repeated. That will save jobs.

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