Fire and rehire: Teachers call for an end to 'morally indefensible' practice

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
"Degrading": Nearly one in 10 workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown

Teachers are being asked to back an MP’s campaign to repeal laws allowing schools and others to fire and then rehire staff on worse pay and working conditions.

Labour MP Barry Gardiner says that thousands of workers across the UK have been “fired and rehired” on worse pay and conditions for the same job.

The practice has existed for years, but the pandemic has seen a dramatic rise in its use.

Research from the TUC published in January found that nearly one in 10 workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown. This includes almost one in five 18 to 24-year-olds.

Furthermore, the TUC found that black and ethnic minority workers are almost twice as likely as white workers to be affected.

An ACAS report in June into the prevalence of fire and rehire identified schools as one of many sectors where the practice has been used. The report says it is often used to try and avoid redundancies, to introduce more flexibility into contracts, or when employers want to “harmonise” pay and conditions.

Earlier this year, Mr Gardiner launched a Private Member’s Bill in a bid to change the law to stop the practice. The Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-Engagement) Bill was introduced in Parliament in June.

If passed, the Bill will amend the law relating to workplace information and consultation, employment protection and trade union rights in order to provide safeguards for workers against “dismissal and re-engagement on inferior terms and conditions; and for connected purposes”. It is due for its second reading in the House of Commons in late October.

During a fringe meeting at this week’s Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Mr Gardiner was joined by NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach and others to promote the Bill and discuss the issue.

During the discussion, Dr Roach called for the “shameful” practice of fire and rehire to end. The union has launched its own campaign to help teachers fight back against fire and rehire and encouraging support for the Bill.

Dr Roach said: “Fire and Rehire is wrong; it’s unfair and it’s unjust. It is morally indefensible and degrading and damages staff morale and threatens productivity. This shameful practice creates a climate of mistrust between employees and their employers and is bad for workers and bad business.”

He added: "Levelling up means ending inequality and injustice at work which are holding back education and our economy. No worker should be forced to take industrial action to ensure that the terms of their employment contractual are respected. Every worker has the right to be treated with decency and respect at work.”

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