HTA employment adviser Penny Worner has had 700 employment enquiries this year, 100 of them about making redundancies. This rose to double the normal rate from August 2008 until this April, but since then it has more than halved.
She said: "Queries are back to normal or even quieter now; if garden centres were dealing with over-staffing, they did it earlier in the year. In buoyant times, garden centres and nurseries try to keep people on, but it has been different this year."
She said that employment services adviser Acas' code of practice changed in April this year, making it easier to make people redundant. Before April there was a three-step procedure for any staff member to be made redundant, regardless of time served. This has been abolished so it is easier for staff that have served less than 12 months to be made redundant, as long as there is no discrimination involved.
A Dobbies staff member said on a "gripe" website last week: "It felt great to be given employment by Dobbies after four months on Jobseeker's Allowance, but now after only three months I've been told that my services are no longer required. They take on staff for the busy period, then let them all go."
Dobbies would not comment without knowing more details of the staff member.
Worner said if the employee was on a short-term contract Dobbies had done nothing wrong and if the employee was on a longer-term contract the retailer has the right to employ the staff it requires.
She added: "In the recession we're in now it's more important to employ the right number of staff."
She said that temporary or inexperienced staff were usually the first to go.