Pret A Manger announces redundancies. BLM Partner Julian Cox responds
In response to the news that sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to close 30 branches and could cut around 1,000 jobs after a significant drop in footfall, Julian Cox, Partner and Head of Employment Law, London:
“Furlough contributions are due to begin at the end of this month, and we’re unfortunately likely to see similar announcements from other companies, before employers are due to start topping up payments. The hospitality sector in particular has been one of the most devastated, and though Pret has resumed trade in many of its stores, the majority of its UK operations are centred around major cities and office workers. It’s no surprise that the chain has therefore come to this decision, with ‘work from home’ continuing to be the norm for much of its customer base.
“Pret is expected to cut potentially 1,000 jobs, necessitating a major redundancy consultation. When a consultation affects so many employees, caution is needed at every stage to avoid wide scale unfair dismissal claims and employment tribunals. Currently, the same consultation rules apply. Those at risk of redundancy must be consulted with before a decision is made and reasonable selection criteria must be decided and applied fairly.
“Of course, the new normal we are in means some aspects of the process have been adapted. Guidance has been updated to allow for remote consultations, though staff still have a right to be accompanied by a trade union rep or colleague, which employers must be mindful of.
“Consultation also still applies for furloughed employees, and does not breach the rules on working. Whilst official statutory guidance on furlough does not make concessions for redundancy, it’s reasonable to assume these employees can be engaged with if they have been selected for consultation. Notice can also be issued whilst they are on the scheme, although businesses will have to top up their pay in lieu to 100%, on top of the 80% supplied by the Government.”
Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.