The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has issued advice to employers who are considering making redundancies after experiencing a record increase in calls to its helpline.
Nearly a third are now redundancy-related as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic coupled with fears about the furlough scheme tapering off. Over the past two months alone, it has experienced an increase of more than 160 per cent, compared to the same period last year.
The key advice being offered by the agency to employers is to consult properly with staff and to ascertain their views on ways in which any financial difficulties might be mitigated. For instance, this could include introducing a recruitment freeze or limits on overtime.
Other options for minimising redundancies offered by ACAS include:
- looking at more flexible ways of working such as remote working to reduce office costs, compressed hours or job shares
- agreeing with some staff that they might stop working for a while or work fewer hours
- moving employees into other suitable jobs within the organisation.
ACAS has also published advice on changes to the law clarifying what pay staff are entitled to if they have been given notice of a redundancy.
This follows the introduction of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (Coronavirus, Calculation of a Week’s Pay) Regulations 2020, which came into force on 31 July. This ensures that employees who are furloughed receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal wages, rather than a reduced furlough rate. For more details, see weekly LELR 683.
If, however, redundancies cannot be avoided, a settlement agreement may offer a practical way forward for some workers. In that event, they should contact Thompsons settlement agreement unit at: https://www.thompsons.law/services/settlement-agreements.
The head of the unit, Natalie Hunt, said: “Since lockdown, Thompsons has experienced an unprecedented increase in referrals for help with redundancies and has assisted hundreds of employees. Our years of specialist expertise in helping those with settlement agreements can be accessed via our freephone number 0800 0 224 224."
Thompsons has issued a series of briefings throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on these and other issues. To read this advice, go to: https://www.thompsonstradeunion.law/news/lelr?month=&year=&topic=Coronavirus+%28COVID-19%29.