Employers keeping a keen eye on the news this week may have picked up on reports of European Union proposals relating to restructuring and redundancies. The proposals have been put forward in a draft report compiled by a Spanish MEP.
One proposal is that as part of any restructuring exercise, including redundancy, employers would be required to measure the "psycho-social health" of employees. This would include both the employees who are being made redundant and those who will not be losing their jobs. The proposal suggests that where there is a ‘significant deterioration’ in an employee's mental health and well-being, the employer should be obliged to offer retraining, training on interview techniques and general assistance with finding alternative employment as a concession for making them redundant.
The proposal goes on to suggest that employers should have to report on the impact that any restructuring exercise has on the local community, including proposals for regenerating local communities affected by significant job cuts.
The UK Government is currently consulting over proposals to reform the collective redundancy process.
The proposals being consulted over are a reduction to the minimum periods of collective consultation and a simplification of the collective consultation process via the introduction of a non-statutory code of practice.
The UK Government’s consultation closes on 19 September 2012 and it is likely to be at least 2013 before any concrete plans begin to appear.
Many reports covering the European proposals have gone as far as to suggest that the European Parliament had already voted through the proposals; however, it seems that this is untrue and the European Parliament will not be voting on them until November 2012.
If the European Parliament votes in favour of the proposals, the road to them becoming law in the UK would be far from smooth. The proposals would be subject to significant further consultation and need to be approved by two further European Union bodies (the European Commission and the European Council). In short, if the proposals were to become law, it could take years.
The coverage of the European proposals is a good example of two things: -
- The disparity in employment ideals across different European Member States and the difficulty the European Union faces in bringing these together; and
- How employment law stories such as this can take on a life of their own where, in reality, the likelihood of such proposals becoming law in their current form may be slim.
From an employer’s perspective, there is always a risk that aggrieved employees turn to ‘Google’ and the press to research their employment rights and jump to the wrong conclusions. If an employee brings an Employment Tribunal claim and is unrepresented, the employer may face the costs of defending any claims even where such claims are without merit.
If you require advice in relation to redundancy or another employment law issue, please contact Joanne Holborn or Tom Scaife on 01228 552600. Alternatively, email one of the team at HR@baineswilson.co.uk
16 August 2012