By Maximilian Clarke
Watering down the law on unfair dismissal in order to stimulate growth is pointless and will achieve nothing, an employment law firm has said.
A leaked report into the state of the UK’s employment laws suggests stripping unproductive workers of their right to claim unfair dismissal in a bid to make it easier for businesses to clear out less productive employees, thereby allowing harder workers to fill their voids, boosting economic growth.
But one business support specialist — which normally campaigns against oppressive red tape — said it’s not weaker laws that were needed but stronger managers.
“This report seems to be based on the notion that lazy workers can idle along doing nothing without any fear of being sacked or disciplined because the law is on their side,” said Peter Mooney, head of employment law at ELAS.
“Any manager worth their salt knows that that’s just nonsense.
“If these people really are dragging the economy back, it’s not new laws we need but new managers, people who lead by example and instil a greater sense of purpose in their workplace and who aren’t afraid to tackle a problem when a strong culture alone is not enough.”
Mr Mooney was speaking following the leaking of a report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, by venture capitalist and Conservative Party donor, Adrian Beecroft.
In it, Mr Beecroft suggests that Britain’s unfair dismissal laws are abused by some in the public sector and should be scrapped altogether.
He claims that, as things stand, the laws have a “terrible impact” on the efficiency of the country’s businesses, and on the cost and effectiveness of our public services.
While scrapping the laws would leave workers with less protection from unscrupulous employers, the “downside” was a “price worth paying”, he added.
Earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne signalled he would also tackle unfair dismissal by lengthening the period employees must work before being eligible to claim from one year to two.
Mr Mooney added: “Our employment laws might make you stop and think whether you’re sacking someone for ‘coasting along’ or just because you don’t like the cut of their jib, but they don’t stop you firing someone who can’t pull their weight.
“On the contrary, it is already perfectly straightforward to get rid of underperforming staff providing you know what you’re doing and you’re organised.
“If you are, then you’ll be able to spot a lazy worker long before they have racked up 12 months in a job, which is when unfair dismissal currently comes into play anyway.”
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