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News - 1 March 2013

DfE warned over potential unfair dismissals claims

The Department for Education has been warned it could face hundreds of unfair dismissal claims if it pushes ahead with plans in England to axe about 1,000 jobs and cut its costs by 50%.

The warning came as civil servants at the DfE began a rolling programme of industrial action over the cuts announced in the Department for Education Review last November. A short walk-out is due to take place on Thursday 7th March.

Lawyers acting for civil service union the PCS wrote to Michael Gove reminding him of his duty to follow agreed redundancy procedures.

The union says the department plans to decide job cuts on capability grounds.

The DfE says it wants to create a department that delivers excellence.

However, it is thought that the reductions will be spread fairly evenly across the DfE's range of activities, but the union also fears that child protection will suffer as the department prioritises its free schools and academies programme.

The letter to the DfE's most senior civil servant Chris Wormald says:
"A reduction in costs of 50%, a potential reduction in staff of 25% and the closure of six offices clearly gives rise to a potential redundancy situation. The department's assertion to the contrary is, with respect, completely unsustainable."

It concludes that the "risk of the department facing hundreds of unfair dismissal claims" can be avoided if the procedures are properly followed.

Peter Ham Auditor and Head of Schools and Charities at ABDS comments:
“A redundancy agreement between the department and recognised trade unions requires the employer to give full notice of the proposals to those likely to be affected, to trade unions and to ensure that the rules are applied fairly.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said the industrial action was "completely out of step with the vast majority of professional civil servants at the DfE who are working hard to reform our education and childcare systems to ensure children receive the best possible start in life".

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.


ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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