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Employment Law Update: Crack Down on 'Unscrupulous' Employers

By Jennifer Marsden-Lambert

Following a number of high profile cases, where companies such P&O Ferries and Tesco hit the news, the government announced it was going to 'crack down' on so-called 'unscrupulous' employers. The UK government's Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has now issued a brand new Code of Practice with guidelines for employers to follow when they are considering 'fire and rehire' as a way to impose changes to terms and conditions. 'Fire and rehire' is the practice of giving an employee notice on their current employment contract and then offering them new employment contracts, often with less favorable terms and conditions. The practice is controversial and some countries have laws that protect employees from being fired and rehired under less favorable terms and conditions. The new UK Code sets out the principles and procedures that should be followed, and the rights and obligations of both the employer and the employee in such instances. Its purpose is to promote fair and proper procedures and reduce the risk of disputes arising by providing clear guidance. Some commentators believe it is also likely to help employees to block changes their employer is trying to make, or at least slow down the pace of proposed changes. Employers who follow the Code should be able to reduce the risk of a successful employment tribunal claim. Conversely, if an employer does not follow the Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement, the tribunal can take into account the failure to follow the Code when determining the amount of compensation to be awarded. The draft Code of Practice is available here. Until 18th April, the government is inviting anyone interested to provide their response to the draft Code. If you would like to give your views as part of the government consultation, you can do so by completing the online survey available here. If you are looking to change employee's terms and conditions, please get in touch with us and we would be happy to advise you on the best practice approaches for consulting with your teams.

About Jen Marsden-Lambert

Jen is the Founder and Director of Second Chapter, and is a Level 7 CIPD-qualified HR generalist with over 10 years' experience in HR leadership roles. She works with clients to improve employee and organisational success through an insight-led, multi-disciplinary approach. She also holds volunteer roles in mental health, community support, environmental conservation, and ending violence against women. She lives in Sheffield with her husband and two cats.

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