A number of alterations to employment legislation are set to be implemented after a government-led consultation launched in June returned its results.
Employment relations minister Jo Swinson says that the government’s decision to reduce the minimum period before large-scale redundancies can take place is backed up by ‘hard evidence’.
The period will now be shortened from its current 90-day framework to 45 days, as part of a package of state employment law changes.
Further alterations include a plan to legislate to make clear that fixed-term contracts, which have reached the end of their natural life, are excluded from obligations for collective redundancies consultation.
Swinson’s announcement arrives following a consultation on collective redundancies that began back in June and is a continuation of the government’s Employment Law Review (ELR). Started by the coalition in 2010, the ELR is said to be aiming to ‘provide clarity, certainty and give businesses the confidence to manage their workforce effectively’.
Speaking in June, the then employment relations minister Norman Lamb said, ‘It is never easy for employers or employees when redundancy is a possibility, but it’s clear that the current arrangements are not working in the best interests of either staff or managers.
‘Our reforms are about improving the quality of consultations – this really is a case of quality over quantity.’
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Another change being imparted by David Cameron’s cabinet is the introduction of a new non-statutory Acas guidance to address what it calls ‘a number of key issues affecting collective redundancies consultation’.
Swinson comments, ‘We have listened to stakeholders and there is a strong argument for shortening the minimum period which is backed up by hard evidence.
‘The process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, which can cause unnecessary delays for restructuring, and make it difficult for those affected to get new jobs quickly.
‘Our reforms will strike an appropriate balance between making sure employees are engaged in decisions about their future and allowing employers greater certainty and flexibility to take necessary steps to restructure.’
The changes announced will be made through secondary legislation, the government says. Draft regulations will now be laid out in the New Year, with changes expected by 6 April 2013.