Last year the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asked Acas to conduct an evidence-gathering exercise on the use of fire and rehire practices. The results were published in June 2021 and in response the Government asked Acas to produce guidance for employers. The new advice has now been published alongside a statement from the Acas Chief Executive which makes clear that Acas considers fire and rehire to be an extreme step, and employers should thoroughly explore all other options first as well as consulting in a genuine and meaningful way if they wish to prevent conflict and stay within the law.
Readers will be aware that the process of ‘dismissal and reengagement’ has been the lawful last resort for decades and many organisations have gone down this well-trodden path when seeking, but not succeeding, in gaining agreement to a desired change of contract. Any dismissal actioned without first engaging in the most rigorous individual, and if required, collective consultation, will result in the dismissal being held unfair. Consultation will include advising why the change is required; taking note of any alternative course of action; and being responsive to any specific effects on individuals.
It seems rather odd then that the BEIS and Acas are using quite such emotive language to describe this process which must already be approached in a thoughtful and measured way if it is not to result in successful claims of unfair dismissal.