No recourse over dismissal by text

New European employee consultation laws to be introduced in the UK would not
have prevented The Accident Group from sacking staff by text messages.

The firm caused a furore after it sacked more than 2,400 staff, many by text
message, after parent company the Amulet Group went into administration.

However, Mike Emmott, employee relations expert at the Chartered Institute
of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the forthcoming Information and
Consultation Directive (ICD) would have done little to prevent the firm acting
in the way it has.

The ICD, to be introduced into the UK for larger companies from 2005, will
force employers to consult with staff in more detail and at an earlier stage
about issues affecting job security.

"The ICD wouldn’t really have helped because current laws already cover
this. There are legal remedies – and I don’t think the directive would add to
the effectiveness of those remedies," Emmott said.

Under the Collective Redundancies Directive, a firm must consult with
elected staff members if it plans to make more than 20 people redundant.

Emmott said The Accident Group’s actions hinge on how much the company knew
about its parent company’s financial situation, and if management had enough
time to consult with staff. "At least the text messages meant they all
knew at the same time and before the story hit the press," he said.

By Ross Wigham

Security officer breaks bad news

A City worker only learned of his impending redundancy when his
security pass failed to open the car park exit barrier.

After complaining to the security officer on duty, Mike Newman
was told his pass had been cancelled by his employer, Dutch-owned bank ABN
Amro, because he was about to be made redundant.

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