Last reviewed 6 October 2021

New research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has shown that, between March 2020 and July 2021, 22% of firms made changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment.

With the most common changes being to location of work (49%), followed by hours of work (47%) and pay levels (44%), redundancy/terms pay (22%) and access to enhanced contractual entitlements/incentives (20%), not all changes to terms and conditions over the period were negative.

For example, among firms that made changes to pay levels, 50% improved pay while 38% reduced it.

On changes to working hours, where these were made, 44% of employers reduced working hours compared to 24% of employers who increased them.

However, the CIPD’s survey of 2000 employers found that, while 19% changed terms and conditions through consultation, negotiation and voluntary agreement, 3% did so through dismissing staff and rehiring them on new terms, also known as “fire and rehire”.

Given that that adds up to the equivalent of nearly 43,000 employers, the CIPD asserts that more can still be done to stamp out the practice.

Its Head of Public Policy, Ben Willmott, said: “While our research shows this is not a widespread tactic, more progress can still be made in avoiding this practice which creates a high risk of legal claims, reputational damage and an adverse effect on employee relations”.

Fire and rehire, he went on, should only be undertaken after extensive consultation and all other alternatives have been considered.

In new guidance for employers when they make changes to terms and conditions, the CIPD stresses that they should always consult and seek voluntary agreement with employees and take all steps to avoid these practices, except in exceptional circumstances.

See https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/terms-conditions/fire-rehire-employer-guidance for full details.