Oh boy are P&O in trouble this week. The thing is they could have obtained the same outcome which they are protesting is necessary to save jobs by following correct procedure.
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 when there were agency workers waiting on the docks to step into those roles is definitely not advisable. Redundancy has a specific legal definition which does not sound like it applied here.
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. A pre-recorded zoom video may be practical and time efficient to ensure that all staff know at the same time but it certainly does not count as proper consultation and does not give play to the human side of the situation. It is not recommended for avoiding those difficult conversations. Having an in person meeting, giving an employee the opportunity to have their say, vent their feelings and suggest alternatives is important not only for a fair process but also to lessen the feeling of disempowerment which inevitably comes in these circumstances.
Additionally where there is union representation it is vital to ensure they are involved, again not just because it is legally required but because they can help. 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.
The biggest lesson from the P&O approach is what not to do. 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, take legal advice to save you bad optics and thousands in legal fees and awards resulting from unfair dismissal claims. Our employment team is here to help and can be reached on 01384 811 811 or by clicking here.