By Daniel Hunter

The government have announced that they will cut the period of notice which employers have to give before making large-scale redundancies from 90 to 45 days.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said the move, along with other changes, was aimed at helping workers and businesses.

However, the TUC union have said that 'making it easier to sack people is the last thing we need'.

"Today’s announcement will send a strong to signal to industry that the government is committed to creating the flexible labour market that it needs," Tim Thomas, Head of Employment & Skills Policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said.

"By reducing the consultation period from 90 to 45 days, the government has taken a further step to creating a modern, consultation system based on the quality, not the length of, the process.

“It now needs to complete the package by introducing simpler settlement agreements and protected conversations that provider a better base for discussing and managing change in the workplace.”

The Beecroft Report, published earlier this year, proposed removing the mandatory 90-day consultation period when a company is considering redundancy programmes and replacing it with a 30-day period, and an emergency five-day period if a firm is in severe distress.

Ms Swinson said the consultation process had produced strong support for the changes and added: "The process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, which can cause unnecessary delays for restructuring, and make it difficult for those affected to get new jobs quickly.

"Our reforms will strike an appropriate balance between making sure employees are engaged in decisions about their future and allowing employers greater certainty and flexibility to take necessary steps to restructure."

The change in policy has also been welcomed by the Institute of Directors.

“This is good news and a welcome step in the right direction. Companies facing problems have to be able to restructure swiftly, and a 45 day consultation period brings the UK closer to a number of EU competitors," Alexander Ehmann, Head of Regulatory Policy at the Institute of Directors, said.

"We would have preferred a move to a 30 day consultation period - the same as for smaller-scale redundancies - which would have made the law less complex. The important thing now is that guidance is given making it clear when a consultation is to begin and end.

“Removing those employees on expired fixed-term contracts from this legislation is welcome, as their original inclusion was a particularly egregious example of the unnecessary “gold-plating” of European legislation. The deregulatory principle demonstrated here could usefully be applied to other strands of employment law.”

The change is planned to be introduced in Britain from next April.

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