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P&O Ferries – Mass redundancies in the workplace

On 17 March 2022 P&O Ferries dismissed approximately 800 employees with immediate effect with the intention of replacing the employees with cheaper agency staff. 

It appears that P&O may have failed to comply with their legal obligations which P&O candidly accepted on 24 March 2022 when P&O’s CEO Peter Hebblethwaite told MP’s “There’s absolutely no doubt that we were required to consult with the unions – we chose not to do that”. 

In a redundancy situation where 20 or more employees are to be made redundant within a 90 day period an employer is required to consult with a trade union or an elected employee representative. If 100 or more redundancies will be taking place the consultation period should start at least 45 days before any dismissals take effect. Failure to adequately consult can render a dismissal unfair. 

Consultation should be meaningful and explore options to avoid redundancies and fairly select employees for redundancy. 

In a situation where an employee is dismissed with immediate effect it is likely that they will have strong claims for unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal (notice pay) and probably accrued but untaken holiday pay. 

If it is a redundancy situation and the collective consultation requirements have not been adhered to the employee may also make a claim for a protective award which can be worth up to the equivalent of 90 day’s pay.

P&O Ferries have indicated that affected employees will be compensated – most likely in the form of a settlement agreement which many employees may choose to take rather than endure the Employment Tribunal process.  Read here as to why an employee may prefer to sign a settlement agreement.  

If your employer is proposing to make redundancies or your business needs advice with a redundancy situation then please contact us on 01483 303636 or email to see how we can help you.