CWU warns over changing redundancy rules
22nd June 2012
CWU has joined other unions, including the TUC, in expressing
concern at the government's latest consultation on employment
rights, describing it an "unnecessary distraction from the
real problems facing our economy".
The consultation, announced yesterday by the government's
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), seeks views
on reducing the consultation period for redundancies in large
companies from the current 90 day period to as little as 30.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary,
said: "Yet again the government is showing its obsession with
dismantling the modest safeguards we have for employment rights in
this country. This consultation is another unnecessary distraction
from the real problems facing our economy, putting a focus on
making it easier to sack people rather than on job creation."
BIS published a package of proposals which they say will improve
workforce flexibility and the ability for employers to restructure
effectively. Employment Relations Minister Norman
Lamb said: "Our reforms are about improving the
quality of consultations - this really is a case of quality over
quantity. The call for evidence showed that the current
arrangements are not fit for purpose for the modern labour market
and I would encourage people with an interest to get involved in
Currently large employers have to consult with their staff for
90 days if there is a threat of large scale redundancy. Ministers
want to reduce this period and to produce a new Code of Practice
for communication between managers and staff, to, in their words,
"reduce uncertainty and to make sure that employers can better
respond to changes in market conditions".
The TUC responded saying there was no need to change
current rules on redundancy. TUC general secretary Brendan
Barber said: "The current 90-day consultation rules
on redundancy are working perfectly well. Any reduction in the time
period in which employers must consult with their workforce over
potential job losses will make what is already a deeply unsettling
time much more difficult for everyone involved.
"The government is in danger of confusing quality with
quantity. Shortening the notice period will not lead to a better
process. It takes time for unions and employers to consider
carefully what alternatives there may be to job losses and what the
impact on the remaining workforce will be. Unions have shown time
and time again they understand the pressures that companies are
under in a tough economic climate and have come up with many
innovative ways of saving jobs."
The formal consultation seeks views on a number of proposals including:
- Introducing a new, non-statutory, Code of Practice to give clearer information on how to conduct good quality consultations
- Reducing the 90-day minimum period for large redundancies (over 100 staff) to 45 or 30 days
- Improving the guidance for employers and employees on the
support on offer from the Government
Government proposes to leave some elements as they are, most
notably the Protective Award. The Protective Award currently stands
at a maximum of 90 days' pay for each employee affected by a
failure to consult and is paid by the employer. As the level of the
award is linked to the employer's attempts to comply (and not
to the length of the consultation period) the government has said
it believes this penalty is an effective deterrent.
The consultation will run for 13 weeks closing on 19 September.