The Government has launched a 12 week consultation exercise to consider changes to the rules on collective redundancies.
Following the Government's call for evidence on collective redundancy consultation in late 2011, it believes that "the current rules do not fit the current economic climate" as they slow businesses' ability to restructure and are "much more restrictive than the rules in many other EU member states".
The aims of the reforms are stated to be to (1) improve the quality of consultation, (2) improve the ability of employers to respond to changing market conditions and (3) balance the interests of employees who are made redundant with those who remain.
The proposals outlined in the consultation include:
- in large collective consultation exercises involving 100 or
more employees, reducing the minimum period before redundancies can
take effect from 90 days to either 30 or 45 days;
- improving guidance on how to define an "establishment" and the
treatment of fixed term workers in redundancy exercises;
- issuing a non-statutory code of practice which will address a
number of key issues affecting collective redundancy consultation;
- improving access to the guidance and support offered by the Government and ensuring that the existing guidance is accurate and fit for purpose.
Government clarification of some of the more contentious areas of collective consultation is likely to be welcomed by businesses and, in particular, HR practitioners. However, employers may be required to revisit their internal practices in light of the contents of any new code of practice.
The consultation (which can be viewed here) closes on 19 September 2012.
- The reforms outlined in the consultation are, at this stage, proposals only and may change over the course of 2012 and 2013. We will keep you updated of any further relevant developments in this area.