A survey conducted for the GMB union has found that 76% of the UK public think that “fire and rehire” tactics should be banned, with 67% suggesting they would avoid buying goods or services from companies that used the controversial tactics.
The issue has gained increased awareness after the recent dismissal of hundreds of British Gas engineers who refused to agree to terms that would see them with lower pay and longer hours.
In a statement made during a Commons debate on 27 April 2021, the government confirmed that it was still considering its response to Acas’ “fire and re-hire” report.
This tactic has already been banned in countries such as Spain and France and could mean employers will find it harder, if at all, to dismiss their employees and re-engage them on less favourable terms. This could then give rise to more employment claims.
On 8 June 2021, Acas published its report on fire and rehire practices. The report explores participants’ experiences. Participants in the report were employer bodies, trade unions, professional advisory bodies, academics and senior advisers from Acas.
The report had mixed views on the matter wish some suggesting it should be prohibited and strongly disincentivised and other felt that the practice should be permitted when it is a genuine and unavoidable last resort.
In debate on employment rights in the House of Commons on 8 June 2021, Paul Scully MP set out the government’s response to the Acas report, confirming that the government does not accept fire and rehire as a negotiation tactic, stating that employers much exhaust every avenue towards reaching agreement. However, Mr Scully confirmed that the government would not introduce “heavy-handed legislation” to prevent fire and rehire and asked Acas to produce a better, more comprehensive, clearer guidance to help employers explore all other options before considering fire and re-hire.