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Dismiss and Re-engage Tactics in Negotiations

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2021

What recent discussions he has had with (a) employers and (b) trade unions on the use of dismiss and re-engage tactics in negotiations with employees. (913796)

What recent discussions he has had with (a) employers and (b) trade unions on the use of dismiss and re-engage tactics in negotiations with employees. (913807)

We have been very clear that employers threatening to fire and rehire as a negotiating tactic is completely unacceptable. As we have been concerned by such reports, we engaged ACAS to conduct a fact-finding exercise as to how fire and rehire has been used. It spoke to a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses and employee representatives. We are now considering these findings.

The Government have been sitting on the ACAS fire and rehire report now for over a month, raising fears that they are trying to bury it because they do not agree with the recommendations. Will the Minister tell me when we will get a chance to see what ACAS has to say, and, in the meantime, will she tell us whether ACAS agrees that the shameful practice of fire and rehire is quite simply unacceptable?

As I previously stated, we find that fire and rehire is just not acceptable. In fact, the Department engaged ACAS to hold discussions in order to generate the evidence that we need. We therefore need to make sure that we consider all this. There is, of course, a degree of confidentiality that we need to bear in mind as well. ACAS officials shared their findings with BEIS officials in February, as the hon. Lady rightly said. We are giving this full consideration and will communicate our next steps in due course.

Fire and rehire is utterly immoral. Members across the House have received many emails from desperate constituents who are being subjected to the disgraceful tactic. From British Airways and British Gas to Go North West, workers across the country have been treated with contempt. One of my constituents who was served with a section 188 notice said to me, “We want changes to be made with us, not to us.” Seeing as this Government promised to protect and enhance workers’ rights when we left the EU, will the Minister confirm how many employers in receipt of coronavirus job retention scheme payments have adopted fire and rehire tactics, and will she now commit to outlawing this practice once and for all?

Just to reiterate, we have been holding clear consultations with a group of stakeholders and ACAS has been conducting this for us. We will be republishing the report in due course.