The pandemic has led to a significant rise in ‘fire and re-hire’ tactics where employees are urged to sign contracts which offer worse pay and employment terms or face losing their jobs.  

According to a survey by the GMB Union, a general trade union, the majority of the UK public are against “firing and re-hiring” tactics being used by businesses.

When asked about this, over three-quarters (76 per cent) stated their view that this practice should be against the law.

This could also have an impact on the bottom line of companies with over two-thirds polled (67 per cent) suggesting that they would be less likely to buy goods or services from a company which utilised fire and rehire tactics.

Previous research from the TUC indicated that “firing and rehiring” has become prevalent during the pandemic, with almost one in 10 workers (9 per cent) being subject to this.

Workers who were young, from a working class background and BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) were found to be at higher risk of being asked to re-apply for their current position whilst accepting worse conditions of employment.

Sarah Evans, Partner at Constantine Law, described how these practices could lead to a rise in unfair dismissal and breach of contract claims if the correct procedures were not adhered to. As such, she advised HR to communicate with staff, offer alternative incentives if possible and listen to staff in order to avoid eroding trust and loyalty with the workforce.

This discussion around “fire and rehire” tactics has come after ministers have been urged to speak out against the practice in the upcoming Employment Bill which will be announced in the Queen’s Speech this week.

Warren Kenny, acting GMB general secretary, criticised firing and hiring, branding it a “dirty and intimidating tactic”. He continued:

It has no place in the modern working world – and the public knows it.

We have been waiting since the government was elected in 2019 for ministers to present their promised jobs bill, which they say would make the UK the best place in the world to work. Enough is enough.

*This research was conducted by Survation on behalf of GMB Union. To do this, online interviews were conducted of people aged over 18. The fieldwork was carried out between 29th April – 4th May 2021 and polled 1,034 members of the public.






Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.