By Rob Downes - 19 December 2012
So big changes announced yesterday to the amount of time employers have to consult with staff when threatened by redundancy.
Currently employers have to consult for a minimum of 30 days before making 20 staff or more redundant, but 90 days when more than a 100 jobs are at risk. From April next year that higher figure will reduce to 45 days.
We welcome this for a number of reasons.
For starters, this will provide employers with greater flexibility to make changes quickly when faced with difficult choices.
So in theory it could help more firms keep their head above water and survive if it means they can keep costs down. It could even mean fewer redundancies.
While it means some workers would lose their jobs quicker, on the plus side it means those whose positions are “at risk” but ultimately aren’t selected will know much sooner that their position is safe. Under the present system the matter would drag on for another 45 days with workers having to deal with the fear of losing their jobs continuing to hang over them.
This is clearly better for staff morale all round.
There’s also the argument that employers are more likely to recruit if they know they can make changes faster if things don’t turn out as they’d planned. So this could be good for employment figures in the long term too.
It’s the flexible labour market that we have now that has helped keep unemployment down in this country. This should help further.
Of course it’s important to remember that if fewer than 20 staff are up for redundancy there is no minimum term consultation period at all, that’s an entirely discretionary matter for bosses to make – many often elect for a two week period. In that respect, 45 days is still generous.