New study reveals 3 in 10 employers are likely to make redundancies over the next year

A new survey from Acas has found that 3 in 10 employers (30%) are likely to make staff redundancies over the next year.

Acas commissioned YouGov to ask British businesses about their redundancy plans in the next 12 months.

The poll revealed that 2 in 5 (41%) large businesses are likely to make redundancies and 1 in 5 (20%) small and medium sized (SME) businesses said that were likely to do so.

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:

"Some businesses across Britain are facing tough challenges and our poll reveals that 3 in 10 are considering redundancies in the year ahead.

"Our findings also show that large organisations are more likely to make redundancies than smaller organisations that employ less than 250 employees.

"Acas advice for bosses is to exhaust all possible alternatives to redundancies first but if employers feel like they have no choice then they must follow the law in this area or they could be subject to a costly legal process."

If an employer finds there are no other choices than to make redundancies then there are strict rules on consulting staff that they must follow.

An employer must discuss any planned changes and consult with each employee who could be affected. This includes staff who may not be losing their jobs but will be impacted.

The minimum consultation period varies depending on the number of employees that an employer wishes to make redundant. By law, employers who wish to make 20 or more staff redundant over any 3 month (90 day) period must also consult a recognised trade union or elected employee representatives about the proposed changes.
For 20 to 99 redundancies, consultation must start at least 30 days before the first dismissal can take effect, and for 100 or more redundancies, it has to start at least 45 days before. For less than 20 redundancies, there is no set time period but the length of consultation must be reasonable.

If an employer does not meet consultation requirements, employees can take their employer to an employment tribunal. If successful, the employer may have to pay up to 90 days' full pay for each affected employee. Someone can also make a claim of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal on the grounds that they were not consulted, or the consultation was not meaningful.

Employers should consider all possible options before considering redundancies as other solutions to their situation could be found through consultation with their staff, employee representatives and unions.

Acas advisers have seen many examples of this joint working that's produced creative alternatives to job losses. For example:

  • part-time working
  • cuts to overtime
  • finding alternative roles
  • retraining

Read our full advice for staff and employers about redundancies

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Background notes

1. Acas commissioned YouGov to poll senior decision makers in a representative sample of British businesses by company size. The survey was carried out online and the total sample size was 1015 senior decision makers excluding sole traders. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27 March and 4 April 2023.
Participants were asked how likely, if at all, are you or your organisation to make staff redundancies in the next 12 months (between now and March 2024). 

The results were:

  • 30% were likely to make redundancies
  • 59% were unlikely to make redundancies
  • 11% did not know

For large businesses that employ more than 249 employees (unweighted sample size 368): 

  • 41% were likely to make redundancies
  • 46% were unlikely
  • 13% did not know 

For small and medium sized businesses (SME) that employ 1 to 249 employees (unweighted sample size 647): 

  • 20% were likely to make redundancies
  • 71% were unlikely
  • 9% did not know

2. Acas has a dedicated business support page for managing in difficult times and Acas runs training courses for employers on redundancies