Workplace rights: relaxing the rules on redundancy

In one of the latest of a torrent of employment law reform initiatives, the Government plans to relax the rules for employers implementing collective redundancies. What does it involve?

The main proposal is to reduce the minimum consultation period for large-scale workforce reductions. At present, employers must consult with worker representatives for at least 30 days when making between 20 and 99 employees redundant and for no less than 90 days when proposing to dismiss 100 or more.

Ministers want to cut the minimum 90-day period to either 30 or 45 days, on the basis that special treatment for 100-plus redundancies is 'arbitrary' and impedes business restructuring. There is also little evidence that a longer minimum period improves the quality of consultation.

Employers will welcome the cost and time savings, but, arguably, employees would benefit too, because of reduced uncertainty and earlier freedom to pursue new opportunities. However, the Government is wrong to say UK business faces a competitive disadvantage in this area compared with other EU countries. Collective redundancy obligations elsewhere in Europe are significantly more onerous than here.

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