Last reviewed 7 October 2020

Over a third of employers (37%) are likely to make staff redundancies in the next three months according to a survey carried out by Acas which also examined the extent to which British businesses are aware of the law in this area.

Worryingly, Acas found that a quarter (24%) of bosses are unaware of the law around consulting staff before making redundancies and that figure increases to a third (33%) where businesses have fewer than 50 workers.

The survey also found that 60% of large businesses are likely to make redundancies in the next three months and, of those likely to do so, over a quarter (27%) said they plan to carry out the process remotely, over video chat or a phone call.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said: “Acas advice for bosses is to exhaust all possible alternatives to redundancies first but if employers feel they have no choice then they must follow the law in this area.”

If they fail to do so, she went on, they could be subject to a costly legal process

Redundancy rules

An employer must discuss any planned changes and consult with each employee who could be affected, Acas has pointed out. This includes staff who may not be losing their jobs but will be impacted.

The minimum consultation period varies depending on the number of employees that an employer wishes to make redundant.

By law, employers who plan to make 20 or more staff redundant over the next three months (90 days) must also consult a recognised trade union or elected employee representatives about the proposed changes.

For 20 to 99 redundancies, consultation must start at least 30 days before the first dismissal can take effect, and for 100 or more redundancies, it has to start at least 45 days before.

Further advice from Acas can be found at https://www.acas.org.uk/redundancy.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

These figures, while they are staggering, only emphasise how negatively impacted employers have been by the coronavirus.

It is, therefore, more important than ever for them to get the redundancy process right, if not for the sake of having a structured approach to redundancy but for the sake of avoiding tribunal claims — for unfair dismissal, failure to consult and/or discrimination.