As you will be aware, businesses making redundancies needs to give advance notification to the government, formally. So, an employer proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees is obliged to notify the Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, BEIS. Notification must be made by sending a completed form HR1 to the Insolvency Service Redundancy Payments Service, which acts on behalf of BEIS. Incidentally, an updated version of the HR1 form, for use by employers, was published by the Insolvency Service on 3 August 2020.The old form was four pages long, the new version is only three pages. Pages three and four of the old version were the ones in tabular format that had to be filled out by the employer. These pages are now pages one and two of the new version; there have been minor cosmetic changes to this part, but they are not really of any substance. So that's the form itself. What about the filing of it? We've noticed an anomaly on that front, as Jon Coley told me:
Jon Coley: ”One interesting development we have seen over recent weeks, Joe, which is not something as a group of partners we've seen over the last 20 years, and we've all been commenting on it, and that is filing HR1s. Normally when an employer is required to file an HR1 if they are contemplating it collective redundancy because they are making 20 more redundancies in a 90 day period, we've always just assumed that they get filed at BEIS and they get stuck in the bottom drawer and nobody actually looks or reviews or checks them. It's almost been just a procedural tick box. Recently though we've had HR1s filed on behalf of two or three clients which have clearly been reviewed, and actually BEIS have rejected them and said that they haven't been filed for various reasons. The cynic in me says perhaps the government is just trying to push the numbers of proposed redundancies out and into another period, but it's just it's just a warning to employers that if there is anything unusual in the HR1, if there is anything which departs from the norm, if there is anything which perhaps isn't just filling in the boxes, then it's worth thinking about sending them in with a covering letter to explain why you've done what you've done and even to follow it up with a phone call, just to make sure that you don't end up in a position where BEIS just turn around and say, actually, we're not accepting that HR1."
On that last point, the filing of the HR1 is largely an administrative exercise but it is a statutory requirement with, potentially, a criminal sanction for failing to file it, although that is very rare indeed. But, as Jon says, if there is anything unusual in the HR1 then best to flag that with BEIS so they don’t reject it and you know for sure that it has been filed.
For now from me that’s the news. Good bye.
- Link to HR1 form