On 24th September 2020, a joint statement was issued by Susan Clews (Chief Executive, Acas), Dame Carolyn Fairbairn (Director-General, CBI) and Frances O'Grady (General-Secretary, TUC), with the aim of helping businesses and workers deal with the impact of possible redundancies.
The multi-organisational statement follows Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier last week that coronavirus restrictions may need to be in place for a further six months, with hospitality businesses being required to close at 10 pm and employees encouraged to work from home where possible. This is a turnaround from previous Government guidance regarding employees returning to the workplace. Rishi Sunak has also announced a Job Support Scheme once the existing furlough scheme closes at the end of October, as we reported last week.
The statement acknowledges that “times are tough” as Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on employers, with changes to working practices, disrupted supply chains and in many sectors reduced demand for products and services. It reads: “We know that times are tough and that as a last resort, employers may have to make redundancies. But our message is that employers should exhaust all possible alternatives before making redundancies. These often emerge from effective consultation with workers and trade unions.”
The statement offers five principles for companies and organisations to consider if they are facing tough decisions regarding redundancies in the coming weeks. They are:
- Do it openly: Employers should be following the rules for collective redundancies (involving 20 or more staff), “but whatever the scale, the sooner people understand the situation, the better for everyone”.
- Do it thoroughly: Employers should offer employees the information and guidance they need to make decisions, and train staff representatives in the processes.
- Do it genuinely: “Consultation means hearing people’s views before you make a decision; so be open to alternatives from individuals and/or unions; and always feed back.”
- Do it fairly: Companies must ensure that the procedures take place without any form of discrimination.
- Do it with dignity: “Losing your job has a human as a well as a business cost. The way you let people go says a lot about your organisation’s values,” the statement continues. Employers must think carefully about how they handle these conversations, whether face-to-face or remote and remember, you may want to rehire the same person in the future.
Any employer contemplating redundancies is encouraged to obtain help and advice. Please speak to your Employment Solicitor at LAW if your business may be impacted by this.