Politics: Ministers toughen rules on job cuts

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The Independent Online
MINISTERS yesterday proposed much tougher redundancy laws which lawyers believe will lead management to "think twice" before getting rid of employees.

This summer new legislation is expected to introduce "clear rules" making it more difficult for companies to avoid consulting their workers in cases of "downsizing", or where an undertaking is transferred from one employer to another.

Proposals tabled by Ian McCartney, the trade and industry minister, will also remove the ability of employers to "adjust the number and timing" of redundancies to get round the law. Mr McCartney intends removing a threshold relieving employers of obligations where fewer than 20 job losses are planned within a 90-day period.

The minister will attempt to ensure that unions are part of the consultation process where they are recognised. Where there is no union, more stringent regulations are envisaged aimed at ensuring that employees' representatives are properly elected and independent.

Mr McCartney proposes higher compensation for workers who have not been properly informed of employers' plans. They will receive the equivalent of 90 days' pay (nearly 13 weeks) instead four weeks in many cases at the moment.

John McMullen, employment law partner at solicitors Pinsent Curtis, a leading firm which specialises in advising employers, said companies would have to bear in mind the cost of trimming the workforce after the new regulations, tabled to ensure Britain complies with European Union law, came into force. "It could make employers think twice about redundancies," he said.

John Monks, TUC general secretary, said the plans would give workers rights denied them by the previous government.