Criminal charges for failure to notify the government of collective redundancies

by Laurie Anstis on October 15, 2015

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about criminal offences that could be committed by a HR manager in the course of their work.

The first of these was failing to notify the Secretary of State of plans to make 20 or more people redundant, under s194 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

It is sometimes overlooked that in collective redundancy situations, as well as informing and consulting with employee representatives, an employer has to notify the Secretary of State (using form HR1, available here).

Section 194(3) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 goes on to say that:

Where an offence under this section committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any other person purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Prosecutions under this provision had been thought to be extremely rare – perhaps non-existent. However, newspaper reports suggest that prosecutions have recently been brought against directors of City Link and Sports Direct for failure to notify the Secretary of State of redundancies.

Notifying the Secretary of State in good time needs to be at the top of the to-do list for any HR manager preparing for collective redundancies.