Collective redundancy consultation cut a miserable Christmas present to the UK workforce

19 December 2012 By Keith Ewing President of the IER Keith Ewing writes about the miserable circumstances that could befall many of the UK's workforce this New Year.

Commentary icon19 Dec 2012|Comment

Keith Ewing

Professor of Public Law, King’s College London

19 December 2012

By Keith Ewing

President of the IER Keith Ewing writes about the miserable circumstances that could befall many of the UK’s workforce this New Year.

In the confident run up to Christmas, you may be feeling your job is pretty secure, your mortgage under control, and you car loan in good shape.

But suppose early in the New Year it is your job that’s on the line. The company you work for is about to go bust, or the public service you provide is about to be cut.

If it happens to you, there may not be any job to go to as the economy moves at a snail’s pace.

Lose your job and you may be facing a bleak future on benefits, or an equally bleak future in an insecure job (with no unfair dismissal protection).

These problems will be magnified when it is not just you who is being made redundant. Imagine you are one of several hundred, all looking for work.

Put like that, how much time do you think your employer should consult with your union or your workplace representatives before turning you all onto the scrap heap?

Since 1975 the law has said that the employer must consult for a minimum of 90 days where the redundancy involves more than 100 workers.

The government has just announced that it is reducing the consultation period to 45 days, as part of its erosion of employment protection of an already vulnerable workforce.

This will not only make it easier to sack workers – it will also make it easier to reduce their terms and conditions by giving 45 rather than 90 days’ notice of the change.

So many thanks Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat Minister for Employment Relations, for a miserable Christmas present to the United Kingdom’s long-suffering workforce.

It is nice to know whose side you’re on.

Originally written as a letter to the Evening Standard

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Keith Ewing

Keith Ewing is Professor of Public Law at King's College London. He has written extensively on labour law including recognition procedures and international standards. He is also the President of the Institute of Employment Rights