UCU issues unfair dismissal warning to Bradford College

UCU members on strike at Bradford College, March 2019

The UCU has warned Bradford College it could be at risk of unfair dismissal claims if it pushed ahead with a plan to axe 107 staff  by August 5.

FE Week reported the college claimed it needs to save £1.5m after a £2m fall in apprenticeship income due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Under the controversial plans, 40 jobs would go in the college’s apprenticeship programme with a further 67 lost across the college, including teachers in the English, history and maths departments.

The college originally planned to axe staff within a week, but it has now extended the timeline to August 5 after UCU said the rushed timeline would likely lead to legal action. However, the union said the college is still at risk of unfair dismissal claims as its proposed termination date of August 5 does not allow enough time to consult with staff and allow them to serve their notice periods.

UCU regional official Julie Kelley said: “The college says it needs to make cuts due to a fall in apprentices but these proposals will impact on students across the college. The cuts would leave A-level students with access to an English literature and English language teacher for only one day a week, and a history teacher twice a week.

“We understand the financial pressures colleges are facing due to Covid-19, and the knock-on losses to apprenticeship income and are urging government to provide colleges more financial support. But this looks like a knee-jerk reaction, and the college is leaving itself open to unfair dismissal claims by not allowing enough time to complete its consultation and for staff to serve their notice period. Instead of risking damage to its reputation with legal challenges, Bradford College should work with us to make the case for government funding to defend its academic capacity.”

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