P&O Ferries Face No Criminal Sanctions

by Hannah Webb

8 September 2022

In August, the Insolvency Service announced that P&O Ferries will not face any criminal sanctions in respect of the mass redundancies of nearly 800 workers who were made redundant without any notice or consultation period back in March.

P&O Ferries’ actions resulted in outcry from unions, politicians, and the public. The backlash was exacerbated given the behaviour of P&O Ferries, and that the reason provided for the redundancies was to replace existing staff with foreign agency workers who they planned to pay less than the national minimum wage.

Indeed, the Chief Executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, admitted to a Parliamentary Committee that the company had broken the law by failing to consult workers, but admitted that he would do so again in order to try and save the company. In light of this, the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, requested that the Insolvency Service investigate whether P&O had committed any civil or criminal offences.

Click here to view our March update where the CEO of P&O Ferries made 800 members of staff redundant effective immediately.

In April, the Insolvency Service announced that it had started formal criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances surrounding the mass redundancies. However, it was announced that there will be no criminal action taken against P&O Ferries in respect of these redundancies because the criminal investigation has concluded that there is “no realistic prospect of conviction.” This will be an incredibly disappointing decision for many. Despite this, the civil investigation into the mass redundancies is ongoing.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the outcome of the civil investigation is, whether the Government takes any action against P&O Ferries or strengthens the law to prevent such mass redundancies from happening again.

This article was written with the assistance of Kate Baggs and Jordan Pace.
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