The Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson, has said that the new initiative is aimed at streamlining the existing setup for both workers and businesses.
She said: ‘The process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, which can cause unnecessary delays for restructuring, and make it difficult for those affected to get new jobs quickly.’
She added that the reforms would ‘strike an appropriate balance between making sure employees are engaged in decisions about their future, and allowing employers greater certainty and flexibility to take necessary steps to restructure.’
Needless to say, the trade unions are not happy about the proposals. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber described the proposals as ‘close to absurd’. ‘These measures will not create a single extra job. Removing consultation rights from fixed-term contract staff will seriously increase job and financial insecurity for vulnerable groups of workers and temporary staff will lose out on redeployment opportunities.’
Again, unsurprisingly, the proposals have been welcomed by the Institute of Directors. Alexander Ehmann, head of regulatory policy for the IoD, said the move would bring the UK closer to ‘a number of EI competitors’, but added that the organisation would have preferred to see an even smaller 30-day consultation period.
It’s worth noting that this piece of government policy seems to have gone under the radar – no fanfare or dressing it up as a great business-friendly initiative. Perhaps the word ‘redundancy’ is not one to be shouting from the rooftops in the week leading up to Christmas...