Fiddling at the edges
The thing that really terrifies small employers is the way the Unfair Dismissal rules are loaded against anyone who does not have a huge Human Resources infrastructure dedicated to following the bureaucratic minutiae of disciplinary codes and processes. Anyone I know in business would far rather be liable for unfair dismissal from the first day of employment IF the trade-off were that the liability would only be for genuine, substantial unfairness - actual mistreatment of the person concerned by the employer - and all the ACAS-specified apparatus, and all the possibilities of indirect or expectation-based claims were swept away.
Most large companies will just pay a difficult employee off. The sector that really gets hammered is the public sector since they are not so keen to pay people off and waste millions handling the cases through their bloated HR departments.
The real problem here is that a large chunk of cases are from difficult people who want to make trouble, this tars the whole process. Nearly all the real instances of unfair dismissal I know of were not pursued by the person dismissed as its far too complicated to take the employer to tribunal and usually the person involved gets a new job and cannot be arsed.
Unfair dismissal is unfair and allowing employers to unfairly dismiss people just because they have not worked for the company that long is not really justifiable. Maybe they should fix the process and get rid of all the employment lawyers so a fair system that is not abused is in place. I don't know what the answer is but the current system allows employers to discriminate arbitrarily and without much censure, there will never be female pay equality for example while this is allowed to continue, making it easier for employers to sack who they want will just make things more unfair.
None of this is simple.
I worked for a company that appeared to have an unofficial policy of getting in permanent employees to do short-term work (thereby not paying contractor's wages), then forcing them out before they had worked a year. As it happened I managed to take them to a tribunal for something that didn't require a year's work, but it was still hard.
Remember that employment law is weighted towards the employee ... and necessarily so because it is assumed that the employer has vast legal resources on its side. Trouble is, for the small business this isn't necessarily so.
Would people accept different levels of rights depending on the size of the organisation for whom they worked? Maybe, and in some cases they already do...
If businesses are unhappy with the unfair dismissal procedures, perhaps they should consider treating their staff fairly in the first place.
And yes, it is way too common for co's to get in employees for short-term work on a misleading basis. Much cheaper than contractors in the short term, but much worse for company reputation and staff morale in the long term.
Stick and carrot
Perhaps employers should pay NI contributions at a premium rate for the length of the probabtion period, compensated by a lower rate* once full employment rights kick in? This would discourage sharp practice by unscrupulous employers and reward companies that invest in their staff.
* I know it's optimistic/delusional to expect lower tax.
of small companies already have different levels of rights.
Quite apart from the legislative rights they have conditions of employment that vary from reasonable to appalling. frequently they are dismissed for "gross misconduct" based on lies and innuendo, and the legal requirements for dismissal, such as suspension and investigation and appeal, are very widely ignored anyway. A large percentage of small companies are members of trade organisations whose attitude to both regulations and organised labour belongs in the 19th century, if not earlier.
The majority of cases before the employment courts are brought with trade union backing, which is widely rumoured to be under consideration of a ban.
So along with a two-year period of trial there is also a high possibility of having to pay to use the employment court service, along with a ban on unions representing their members in these courts.
And with employment court average payments hovering around the low four-figure range anyway, even the government now admits that the "compensation culture" is an urban and media myth.
Health and safety at small companies, never really a priority anyway, is now getting much worse with the number of inspectors dropping by over 500 in the last ten years....and along comes the "spending review" which asks for another 25% reduction in spending.
And why should companies take-on more permanent staff anyway, apart from the lack of business they can already use agency workers.....who have no permanent work (12 weeks maximum then out-the-door because of holiday pay) and have a hard time actually having an employer since the agency tells them they work for the client, who turns around and tells them the opposite (and they also have to provide their own personal protective equipment...a breach of the regulations).
It's a hard life running an business, with costs being so high.
But wait, according to business the highest cost is the working time directive (at around 1.8 billion a year) followed by the vehicle excise duty (reduced pollution) regulations at 1.2 billion.
Employment law is way down their list.
And the working time directive is eu law, which uk government cannot repeal or change, along with the aforesaid vehicle excise regulation.
Let's look at the figures shall we?
1987 - just over 3 million unemployed.
1990 - 2 million umemployed.
You still claiming that employement levels didn't improve during that time?
Mind you, they reached 3 million again by 1993. Which is bad.
But not as bad as the rise from 1.5m to 2.5m in 1 year under Brown in 2008-2009.
Yes, let's look at the figures
During the lifetime of the Tory government, between 1979 and 1997, the way in which unemployment was calculated was changed no fewer than 22 times to take vast swathes of the population off the register but still unemployed, a state of affairs that has never been rectified.
I believe they call that massaging the figures, or more bluntly, fiddling!!
The major effect of this
will mean less job security for women of child-bearing age; at least now someone *can* sue when being dismissed for getting pregnant. Yes, I know, annoying when you're a small company, but there's always an excuse.
Secondly, how will this generate more jobs? It might generate more vacancies, but the only way this is going to generate more jobs is by letting employers hire more and more personnel without thinking of the consequences and before it may be economically viable. And a broke employer employs nobody but the administrators
"Most large companies will just pay a difficult employee off. The sector that really gets hammered is the public sector since they are not so keen to pay people off and waste millions handling the cases through their bloated HR departments."
Really? Methinks you have never run into a vindictive HR department who always acts in mala fide.
Labour not always employee friendly
All was not sunny in the Labour garden. They also changed the rules to make it harder to take a case to tribunal. This was on the grounds that there were too many unfair dismissal hearings, which imposed an unfair burden on employers. This was despite the fact that the vast majority of such hearings found in favour of the employee (something approximating "almost all"). Sounds to me like the coalition is using the same reasoning; too many employers are badly behaved, so let's restrict the employees' ability to obtain justice.
As someone said tricky....
I suspect there are unscrupelous employers who may abuse the system but as was mentioned earlier on, the employee is very well protected.
I used to be in a large organisation and I had a guy that was useless but to fire him would be legal hell. It wasnt just that it was a waste of money, the fact the guy was still being employed was just getting other employees down. In the end I just fired him telling him that it wasnt going to work out. We organised a payoff. Really the fact I had to do a payoff wasnt right.
Now I've got a small company, I really cant afford to have that type of situation so I dont give people the benefit of doubt. If after 6 months I dont think its going to work out, I choose to let them go rather than invest time trying to make it work.
Also for small companies, the maternity leave is a massive issue. Fortunantly it hasnt ever come up , somewhat helped by the fact that female software enigineers are few and far between.
...are almost impossible even for well-organised (unionised) employees with massive supporting evidence to win. Paid union officials always warn union members that they are unlikely to win and probably won't ever get employed again, even if they do, because of blacklisting.
Unfair dismissal cases are brought either because the person claiming to be a victim is a troublemaker (very rare, but it does happen), or because the victim has no other option. In the latter case, the employee has usually been bullied and browbeaten for a long time and has had multiple periods off work due to stress.
The notion that unfair dismissal cases have any measurable effect on employment or unemployment figures (by whatever measure is in fashion this week) is laughable. Perhaps the best option would be to give Lord Young his jotters and hire an economist instead.
Ideological Agenda: "Know Thy Place"
and I did not believe that there was an Ideological Agenda. Sacking 500,000 public sector workers, the removal of employee rights, putting up university fees to up to £9k, it seems very clear that pushing down the working classes while removing their aspiration to achieve is the underlying policy.
This is all ammunition for the opposition to promise to undo at the next election.
The fact is regardless of your length of service if your employer wants you out, you are out.