This is a sensible move that works in the interests of businesses and employees. When the tough decision to lay off staff has to be made, it is right to consult. But there is no reason to force businesses to delay critical decisions or to leave staff in limbo for three months. Where consultation can be done more quickly, it should be. That gives certainty to staff about whether they will be affected by the redundancy round, and allows remaining staff and management to work together to grow the business so that, in future, they will be able to create jobs again. We have been calling for the minimum consultation period to be reduced to lower uncertainty for staff and allow businesses to focus on the future more quickly. Where longer is required, more time can still be taken. This announcement represents welcome progress.
Neil Carberry is director of employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry.
The government today announced plans to cut the redundancy period from 90 to 45 days. But the change fails to take account of the fact that it is already possible to shorten the consultation period when employers and the workforce are in agreement. To force a lesser period when consultation is still ongoing, and at a time where employees may have legitimate concerns, is an unnecessary measure. Very often a thorough study of the redundancy plans will lead to changes that can benefit not only the workforce but also the company. At times, suggestions from employees and unions can be constructive ones. In addition to this, there is of course the added security that the 90 day period gives people in grim economic times. The existing 90 day period only affects large companies, which should be able to plan a consultation timetable appropriately.
Tom Walker is an employment law partner at Manches.