A Private Members’ Bill, which intends to see ‘fire and rehire’ practices limited, had its second reading in the House of Commons on 22 October but was blocked by the government. The Government said that it wanted new guidance for companies, rather than a law.
Fire and rehire has been on the increase during the pandemic and the bill sought to ensure employees are made aware of any fire and rehire plans.
The bill followed a move by British Gas which threatened to dismiss engineers who failed to sign new contracts which increased their working hours and decreased their pay but the energy company was not alone. According to an HR review article dated 22 October 2021, 9% of workers have been asked to re-apply for their current job but on worse conditions since March 2020, just before the initial “lockdown”.
The government has condemned such tactics but believes companies in financial difficulty should have the flexibility to offer staff new jobs even though analysis earlier in the year showed that nearly 70% of firms engaging in the practice were making a profit.
Although there will be no foreseeable change in the law, the government has asked ACAS to produce more detailed guidance on how and when fire and rehire should be used.