Redundancy Consultation Changes on the Way

The Government has confirmed its intention to change the way employers consult workforce representatives during large-scale redundancies, including by reducing the 90 day consultation period to 45 days. The changes will come into force in April 2013.
Some employers will welcome this as usually consultation is completed well within the 90 days with the current law preventing the business from re-structuring sooner. The TUC however had said the government is making it easier to sack people.
Currently, an employer is required to inform and consult with trade union or other elected employee representatives where it is proposing to make 20 or more employees at one establishment redundant within a period of 90 days or less. Consultation must begin no later than 30 days, where between 20 and 99 redundancies are proposed, or 90 days, where 100 or more redundancies are proposed, before the first dismissal takes effect.
Fixed-term contracts will be excluded from collective redundancy consultation.  Fixed term contracts and their expiry cause particular problems for the education sector, and mean that many education institutions engage in rolling consultation processes in order to comply with the current consultation obligations. This step is intended to alleviate those problems.
ACAS will produce non-statutory guidance to address key contentious issues in the consultation process.
Employers have the legal obligation to begin consultation “in good time” and to ensure it is meaningful.