Consultation failure could cost dear

Many employers are failing fully to comply with the obligation to consult on
collective redundancies, even though sanctions are among the most draconian
according to a leading expert in the field.

Fears of tougher consultation laws from Europe are causing employers to
underestimate the impact of existing rules under the Trade Union and Labour
Relations (Consolidation)Act 1992.

"At a maximum of 90 days’ pay per affected employee, protective awards
can run into many hundred thousand pounds," says Christopher Mordue, an
associate at Pinsent Curtis Biddle in this issue of employers’ Law.

Yet many employers do not fully appreciate the extent of the obligation to
consult or regard it as a frustrating and inconvenient formality, he says.

The warning comes as fears of mass job cuts grow. Consultancy Cap Gemini
Ernst & Young was criticised recently for using voicemail to inform staff
of 750 job losses.

Mordue advises firms to take care that the proposals are not announced as a
done deal.

"A natural tendency to consult only after alternatives to redundancy
have been considered and rejected by management results in an inflexible
position that makes consultation appear a mere formality."

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