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P&O Ferries under scrutiny following the dismissal of 800 UK staff!

23 March 2022

Richard Lozano


P&O Ferries are a British shipping company that operates ferries between the UK to Ireland and continental Europe. the sudden decision by P&O to dismiss all 800 UK staff has made the news headlines.

It is a remarkable event, basic employment law has not been followed and the manner of the dismissals has attracted criticism. The staff of P&O were made aware during Thursday’s announcement, made over Zoom, explaining that all 800 staff were losing their jobs with immediate effect which disregards good employment practice.

Employers should always communicate as much as possible, and as far in advance as possible before dismissing staff. Failure to do so can result in Employment Tribunal claims and reputational damage to the business involved.

In this instance, P&O workers could have claims for unfair dismissal and a failure to consult with unions, both of which could lead to sizable pay-outs in the Employment Tribunal. Generally speaking, staff with at least two years’ service have the right not to be unfairly dismissed, and whilst redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal, as long as it is a genuine redundancy situation, a fair procedure must also be followed before a redundancy dismissal can be considered fair by the Employment Tribunal.

There are additional consultation requirements for employers who are proposing 20 or more redundancies at one establishment within 90 days. P&O may well have to pay 90 days’ full pay for each employee, capped at a year’s salary as well as compensation for the dismissal itself.
A further legal duty that an employer has relates to unfair selection for redundancy which could rise to discrimination claims, in circumstances where the employee argues that their redundancy selection relates to a protected characteristic for example sex, race, age, or disability.
It may be in this case that P&O will seek to rely on legal peculiarities that apply to offshore work and they may well seek to make a financial settlement with the workers involved.

It’s vital to take immediate action in circumstances relating to dismissal or redundancy. Understanding whether or not your employer has followed the correct procedures is important to bring a claim and this is where an employment lawyer can help.

Richard Lozano, Head of Employment Law, is an experienced employment lawyer offering professional and supportive legal advice to those having employment issues. If you or someone you know is having an employment issue, we would strongly recommend contacting him for advice
Richard and the team can be contacted by calling 01302 341 414 or by submitting an online enquiry.