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The employment relations minister Jo Swinson today announced changes to collective redundancies which were criticised by unions as “absurd”. The notice period which employers have to give before making large-scale redundancies will be cut from 90 to 45 days, with temporary staff expected to “lose out”, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said.
The government stressed that fixed term contracts which have come to an end are excluded from obligations for collective redundancies consultation. New non-statutory Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) guidance will also be introduced.
Jo Swinson said: “The UK has a labour market that is flexible, efficient and fair but some of our laws need reform to respond to an ever changing employment landscape.
“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.”
But the TUC criticised the plans. TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “The last thing we need is for the government to make it easier to sack people.
“Removing consultation rights from fixed-term contract staff will seriously increase job and financial insecurity for vulnerable groups of workers, and temporary staff will lose out on redeployment opportunities.
“These measures will not create a single extra job. The idea that an employer will change their mind about taking someone on because the statutory redundancy consultation period has been reduced from 90 to 45 days is close to absurd.”
The new 45-day period will be a minimum period. The changes are expected to come into effect by 6 April 2013.