Cutting consultation periods for group redundancy risks unemployment, warns the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The Government is considering scaling back the 90-day time frame to make the process of dismissing staff easier, quicker and cheaper. However, the TUC claims that this would be detrimental to employers, employees and the economy.

Currently businesses planning to cut 20 to 99 jobs must discuss the matter with unions or workplace representatives for at least 30 days. This rises to 90 days if more than 99 members of staff are to be relieved.

The union argues that the existing allocation of time allows for negotiations to help find ways of avoiding redundancies and to re-train staff. It also ensures that the process is transparent and fair. A cutback in the 90-day period could signal to employers that the priority of exploring ways of reducing job losses had lessened.

Along with trying to prevent a dilution of the current legislation, the TUC believes that the rules should be strengthened to ensure that situations such as the recent case with Woolworths are not repeated.

Here payouts were won for employees as the insolvency practitioners failed to consult. However, those who worked in stores with fewer than 20 members of staff did not receive compensation. For more on this case please click here.

TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: “Rather than cutting back on consultation rights, now is the time for ministers to strengthen collective redundancy arrangements and protect working people and employers.”

The Coalition’s call for evidence over this issue has now closed. It will launch a full consultation later this year if the findings suggest this is necessary.