Acas has recently published new guidance on the use of ‘fire and rehire’ strategies by employers. So what is ‘fire and rehire’ and why is new guidance required?
What’s it all about?
The expression ‘fire and rehire’ seems to have come to prominence over the last couple of years. However, the practice to which it refers is one that has been around much longer than that.
From time to time, employers may wish to introduce changes to the terms and conditions of some or all of their employees. If existing employees will not willingly agree to these changes, occasionally, and normally as a last resort, an employer may consider terminating their employees’ existing contracts of employment whilst offering them re-engagement on a new contract reflecting the new and updated terms and conditions. This is ‘fire and rehire’.
Politicians on all sides have spoken in less than flattering terms about the use of ‘fire and rehire’. However, on this occasion, we are pleased to see that the government has decided against further regulation. In reality, there are already a number of different laws which closely govern employers’ actions. These commonly include both the obligation to collectively inform and consult with trade unions or employee representatives, as well as the requirement to comply with unfair dismissal laws. Given the risks associated with offending the existing regulatory framework, the truth is that few employers who have taken legal advice on their position would commence a ‘fire and rehire’ process lightly. Instead, it will frequently represent a last resort, in circumstances where the only other viable options might be considerably worse for both employer and employee.
The Acas guidance
Although relatively few employers will need to contemplate using a ‘fire and rehire’ strategy, where necessary, it is essential for businesses to fully understand their duties and obligations. With this in mind, the new Acas guidance is likely to represent a very useful starting point for employers contemplating this course of action. You can find a copy of the full guidance via the link below:
Of course, it’s important to remember that this guidance is only a starting point; by its very nature, the guidance is of general application and is no replacement for specific and tailored legal advice on the particular circumstances of an individual case.
If you need specific legal advice on a situation of this nature, please get in touch.