By Claire West

A leaked government-commissioned report by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft recommends reforms to employment law including giving employers greater flexibility to hire and fire staff.

Carmen Watson, MD of Pertemps Network Group, the UK’s largest independent recruitment consultancy, commented:
“Small and medium-sized companies in particular are currently reluctant to take on new permanent staff, preferring to hire temporary employees where the agency manages employment issues on their behalf. They believe taking on permanent staff will involve them in a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. They also have a genuine fear that, even if they do everything right, they may still end up facing a claim brought by a disgruntled former employee which will cost them a lot to defend. I believe many employers will welcome any measure that reduces that fear, and frees them up to take on the staff they need.

“Most employers now have good recruitment and HR policies and practices in place and do their best to treat their staff well and fairly. Apart from anything else, this ensures a good working environment and that they get the best out of their staff. Additionally, it should be noted that most responsible employers, in the event of a genuine error, would be the first to put their hands up and compensate a wronged employee appropriately, so these proposed measures would merely serve to eliminate vexatious and/or unnecessary claims.

“The Beecroft report is also expected to recommend giving responsibility for checking foreign workers' eligibility to work in the UK to the Border Agency or Home Office, rather than as currently to employers which is very burdensome, particularly on small employers.”

Carmen concluded: “Employers will welcome any measure that introduces more flexibility, provided this is done speedily and efficiently and people do not get held up “in the system”, and that gives employers the confidence to hire new staff. Hopefully this will create the opportunities and jobs that we currently need and ultimately lead to economic growth.”