Redundancy consultation: the impact of the new rules

By Mary Clarke

The government recently made a surprising announcement that it intends to push back many of its employment reforms from April 2013 to ‘the summer’ (with no further specifics given). Importantly, however, one important reform has survived the government’s timetable juggling and will still come into effect in April 2013. This is the proposal to reduce the number of days that must elapse between consultation beginning and dismissals taking effect, in the case of large-scale redundancies.

From 6 April 2013, employers who are proposing to dismiss 100 or more employees will only have to begin consultation 45 days before any dismissals take effect, rather than 90. The 30-day period will continue to apply where between 20 and 99 redundancies are proposed.

At first glance, this seems like good news for employers. It allows employers to start consultation later and potentially gives greater flexibility by allowing employers to react more quickly to changing economic conditions. However, employers must always bear in mind that consultation must be meaningful. Notwithstanding the new minimum period, if there are issues regarding pools and selection criteria, a 45-day consultation period may not be sufficient to ensure appropriate consultation takes place…

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