Can Employees Be Dismissed Over Zoom?


12 June 2020

By Alexandra Dean

With remote working now becoming the norm, most of our work meetings and conversations have become this strange mix of faces on our computer screens.

This is as close as we can get to the formality of having face to face meetings during the current global pandemic and, in most cases, employers and employees have embraced it wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, as we are starting to see the economic impact that the crisis is having on businesses around the world, some companies have had to make staffing cuts in order to reduce costs so that the business can continue to operate going forward. This means that redundancies are becoming more commonplace and it is a trend that we are likely to continue to see.

Some stories have emerged of companies in the United States taking on group Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls and laying off groups of people at a time without any prior warning.

Whilst this would horrify some UK employees, they should be rest assured that this would not be acceptable under UK employment law and even with the seeming informality of working remotely, a proper process would have to be followed by employers seeking to dismiss employees or even placing employees on furlough.

Generally, employers would have to undertake a formal process with their employees in order to dismiss them, make them redundant or even place them on furlough which means that it should not come as a surprise to any employee.

Employers could utilise the electronic meeting facilities to make general announcements to the workforce about impending redundancies, for example, to ensure that everyone receives the same information and there is no case of 'Chinese whispers'. However, employers ought to be very careful that this is only a notification meeting and does not become a meeting where decisions are made prematurely.

Whilst it is slightly different to have a meeting by video conference as opposed to in person, we still encourage employers to ensure that the communication is clear and the door is open for any proposals from employees where possible.

Our expert employment law team is available to advise any employers or employees who may be affected by redundancies, lay-offs or furlough at any stage of the process and we will be happy to help – please do contact our team for expert advice (which we can also offer via video conferencing for ease).

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Please do not hesitate to contact our team for further advice and discussion via e-mail or by telephone on 01245 228141.