This news from P&O underlines the stark reality for many companies who are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic. The decision to make 800 staff redundant with immediate effect is, quite understandably, devastating for the employees affected and the wider business as a whole.
It could also be said that compassion and empathy must also come high on the list of priorities, something which isn’t immediately obvious in this case given the way staff appear to have been informed.
What is also concerning is that it appears P&O may have failed to comply with their legal obligation to consult with those members of staff before making them redundant. In circumstances where an employer proposes to make 20 to 99 redundancies, the employer must consult with staff for at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes place. Where 100 or more redundancies are proposed, as in this case, the minimum period of consultation is 45 days.
A failure to inform and consult with members of staff at risk of redundancy can give rise to a number of claims including unfair dismissal and claims for a ‘protective award’ for failing to comply with the minimum consultation periods.