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Collective redundancy consultation cut: good for both employer and employee?

Employment relations minister Jo Swinson has announced that the collective redundancy consultation period, in situations where 100 or more employees are involved, is to be cut from 90 days to 45 days.

We asked two HR directors: Will this be, as the Government says, good for both employee and employer? Or, as the trade unions say, will the measure ultimately make it easier for companies to sack employees, and do nothing to help create employment?

Today, David Frost, group HR director at Produce World, gives his thoughts.

"Overall, I believe the reduction of the consultation period from 90 to 45 days is positive for business.

"The UK economy is going through a massive period of change and readjustment, and in order for us to become increasingly competitive in the future we need a flexible and nimble employment environment. From an employer's perspective, we need to be able to react quickly to changing market conditions. The reduction in the consultation period will enable this to happen and provide the UK with a competitive advantage, encouraging investment and growth in the employment market.

"This change will still require employers to consult employees over redundancies. This, too, is a critical step in any organisational change. A professional employer will always aim to treat staff in an open and honest manner, and as a result, engagement levels can be maintained even through difficult times.

"I've been responsible for leading several large restructuring and redundancy programmes during my career and, in agreement with union and employee representatives, consultation processes have often been completed well before 90 days. I think it is always the best outcome to provide employees with clarity about their future as quickly as possible without short-cutting a thorough review of all options that are available. Of course this is far more likely to be achieved when employee relations are strong and there is a high level of trust between all parties.

"To introduce this change in a constructive way, I would recommend that employers and their employee representatives review and communicate the policy and practices that will apply in the event of the need to consult over large-scale organisational change. I believe good practice is far more important than the enforcement of what can be an arbitrary timescale for consultation."