The government is determined to drive down people’s pay and working conditions, enabling employers to continue using ‘fire and rehire’ when they have the power to outlaw it and to strengthen our employment protections.
An escalating number of employers across all sectors are using our weak employment protections to fire and rehire; one in 10 workers have experienced fire and rehire, with BME workers hit hardest. And a quarter of all workers have experienced a worsening of their terms and conditions – including a pay cut – since the pandemic began.
Congress notes with deep concern the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment across the UK. In sectors such as retail, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends, with at least 180,000 retail jobs lost in 2020 and up to 200,000 at risk in 2021.
Even before the pandemic one in nine workers – 3.8 million people – were already ‘insecure’, without access to basic rights at work. They could be dismissed at will, including those on zero-hour contracts and agency workers. Fire and rehire is an additional insecurity, affecting workers who thought they had secure and regular work and incomes.
Congress expresses its support for all workers who face the threat of fire and rehire, affirms its solidarity with British Gas workers who led the first national gas strike in ten years, and resolves that there must be an industrial and a political response that ends the practice for good.
Congress believes if we allow practices such as fire and rehire to escalate they will become normalised, undermining all of our pay and working conditions, damaging our society and people’s lives. It will deepen poverty even further and accelerate our obscene wealth inequalities, harming people’s mental health and their ability to plan and build their futures.
Congress further notes that the devastating impact of redundancy is worsened by the current lack of adequate rights to support and training opportunities. This has a disproportionate impact on Black and minority ethnic workers, young workers, women, disabled workers and those with caring responsibilities.
Congress calls on the TUC to urgently campaign for the immediate implementation of the following provisions to assist workers:
i. an end fire and rehire, including supporting the Private Members’ Bill to deem the practice as unlawful dismissal and support disputes where members face fire and rehire
ii. exposing the government for failing to end this practice and the employers who use it
iii. a 90-day statutory period of redundancy consultation where more than 100 individuals are at risk of redundancy
iv. a personal retraining budget for all workers given notice of redundancy to ensure the best chance of re-entering the workplace as soon as possible
v. a significant increase in statutory redundancy pay, so that all workers are entitled to three weeks’ pay for each year of service
vi. closing the loophole where, in locations with less than 20 employees, employees are not entitled to redundancy consultation, even where the decision affects more than 20 people
vii. strengthening protection against redundancy and health and safety rights for pregnant women and new mothers.
Seconder: Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers