A letter signed by 140 Lords and MP’s has been sent to PM Boris Johnson, urging for fire and rehire practices to be outlawed.
The practice, described as a “bully boy tactic” by one minister allows for employers to threaten employees with dismissal if they do not agree to new employment terms, often worse than those they already have.
The general consensus of the public as reflected by a recent poll carried out by the Unite Union is that 70% of people believe the practice should be made illegal.
Calls for fire and rehire practices to be banned come off the back of high profile cases such as with British Gas where engineers who refused to accept new contract terms were dismissed. Changes to their contracts included the extension of working weeks as well as the removal of higher pay rates for weekends and bank holidays.
Further inquiries from the TUC found that 1 in 10 workers had been threatened with fire and rehire throughout the pandemic.
Those calling for an end to the practice, hope for it to be announced as part of the Queen’s speech on Tuesday, May 11th.
The controversy surrounding fire and rehire has caused some businesses to back off from implementing contract changes in this way. One such business is British Airways who announced in January that they would not follow through with plans to enforce contract changes to their cargo division.
Temporary barring of fire and rehire practices have also been enforced on some businesses such as Tesco as a court case won in the favour of retail trade union, Usdaw, has prevented Livingstone warehouse workers from being pressured into new contracts. This hearing that took place back in February, would prevent workers from losing an estimate of between £4000 to £19,000 per year.
Many have taken issue with the timing of the implementation of these practices with many workers already feeling the economic effects of COVID-19 without the implementation of fire and rehire.
Furthermore, the extent of which fire and rehire is being implemented in different organisations has upset many including Unite general secretary, Len McClusky who has said the practice is “ripping through businesses like a disease”.
While the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been quoted describing the practice as “unacceptable” some ministers have insisted that businesses in financial difficulty must be granted the freedom to offer new terms.
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