This week’s letters

Jumping the gun is a sure route to losing at tribunal

I was interested to read that Sarah Howlett thinks it a good idea to make
employees redundant before completing the consultation process (Legal, 25

Doesn’t that just cause more difficulties than it prevents? Consultation is
there for a purpose, namely to ensure that both sides are fully informed of the
other’s position, and to explore the possibility of routes other than

Lack of meaningful consultation will inevitably lead to a finding of unfair
dismissal at tribunal.

If an employee already has a redundancy dismissal letter in hand, they are
unlikely to feel that any input will be of use. I know from bitter experience
that such a letter will be used in evidence at tribunal in an attempt to prove
that the employer had already made its decision prior to consultation.

If so persuaded, the tribunal will rule the whole consultation process a
sham and the likely compensation may outweigh any savings made by giving early

Anne Copley
Head of legal affairs, BPIF

High price to pay for weak advice

I read Legal Q&A on collective redundancies with anger and dismay.

Sarah Howlett advises employers that "it is more cost-effective to
start the consultation and give the employee their dismissal notice after a
week or so". She goes on to say that "consultation can then take
place during the notice period. If the consultation determines that an employee
will not be made redundant after all, then the notice can be retracted".

Amazingly, no thought at all is given to the extra stress and anxiety likely
to be inflicted upon the individuals by this ‘cost-effective’ approach. It is
this sort of attitude – treating people as nothing more than pawns or
accounting numbers – that can give personnel management a bad name.

If HR really is to have a human face, this is the sort of advice that should
be made redundant.

Dave Chappell
Firefighter and union representative, Exeter

Training action will close the skills gap

It is shocking to read that, according to the recent Learning and Skills
Council report, staff skills shortages have increased dramatically (News, 18

Despite a lot of coverage over the past six months, there has still been no clear
indication of how to rectify this problem.

If we take a look at UK plc today, most companies have some sort of training
programme in place for their employees. However, a large percentage of these
still don’t understand or implement them effectively.

Today it is not enough just to have a training programme. To ensure training
is carried out successfully, organisations must take learning seriously.

There needs to be a greater recognition of the need to tie learning in to
over-arching business objectives and understand how this feeds into every
individual’s training programme.

Instead of pointing the finger, organisations need to look at training
strategically. They need to encourage higher levels of dialogue between all
departments and promote training internally to make sure staff are aware of how
they can develop vital skills and how these fit into business objectives.

If conducted successfully, training can provide an organisation with a
highly skilled, motivated and productive workforce, but if it is based on poor
understanding and inflexibility, the skills gap will remain.

Karina Ward
International marketing manager, NETg

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