Can we just sack them? Navigating Challenges After Making Waves

It has been a little over two years since P&O, a huge cruise ship company, were in a lot of trouble for dismissing their staff. The thing is, they could have obtained the same outcome by following slightly difference and correct procedures.

You may be aware that an employer can fairly dismiss staff for ‘some other substantial reason’ which can include economic reasons, but they still have to follow a fair process. Dressing it up as a redundancy situation when there were agency workers waiting on the docks to step into those roles is definitely not advisable or clever!!

There is also a lot to be said for the old maxim – ‘it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it’. 2 years ago, P&O used a pre-recorded zoom video to announce to their staff the redundancy situation. Whilst this may be practical and time efficient, it certainly does not count as proper consultation and does not give play to the human side of the situation. All employees are human at the end of the day! Having an in person meeting, giving an employee the opportunity to have their say, vent their feelings and suggest alternatives is very important in these situations, not only for a fair process but also to lessen the feeling of disempowerment which inevitably comes in these circumstances. Let’s hope we can all learn from the P&O approach.

Additionally, another thought to think about is where there is union representation. It is vital at this stage to ensure they are involved, again not just because it is legally required, but because they can help both parties. Some dismissals are inevitable but the support that a union can provide their members in seeking alternative employment can be so helpful in what is an extremely difficult situation and in turn this will help the employer.

We understand in the current climate costs are rising, and as well as having an impact on personal finances it also has an impact on business finances. If your business is struggling and considering having to cut staff, please take legal advice to save you bad decisions and thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Our Employment Law Team, Maria Fernandes and Courtney Stephenson are here to help and can be reached on 01384 811 811.