P&O Ferries have received a significant amount of adverse publicity this week after dismissing 800 staff by video call, providing a stark reminder of the importance of following fair processes prior to making dismissals. It has also been reported that the government will be reviewing its contracts with the company and, unsurprisingly, the RMT union are threatening legal action, calling it one of the “most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.” There have however also been reports that the video message referred to a “generous severance package” which would suggest that the company may be intending to use settlement agreements in an attempt to avoid Tribunal claims.
It is essential that employers plan their approach to any potential redundancies very carefully, not least so that the costs of making them aren’t increased by expensive procedural mistakes which result in additional compensation payments. There are many potential problems that need to be identified and addressed at the earliest possible opportunity, so that the redundancy process can be well thought-out, objective and ultimately successful.
This includes a 30-day consultation period with representatives (and notification to the Secretary of State for BEIS) before any notice of redundancy is given when more than 20 employees may be made redundant, and if 100 or more redundancies are proposed, the minimum consultation period is at least 45 days.
For further information on redundancy rules, you can read our full overview here. If you need advice on redundancy procedures or a review of your policies, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our employment law team.