Scrap unfair dismissal claims for lazy workers - report

Sacked worker Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist and Conservative Party donor, wrote the report

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Unproductive workers should lose their right to claim unfair dismissal, a leaked government report says.

The report - commissioned by the prime minister - argues this would mean more capable people would replace those sacked, boosting economic growth.

The Daily Telegraph quotes the report as saying that under current rules workers are allowed to "coast along" with some proving impossible to sack.

Downing Street says changes to unfair dismissal rules are "unlikely".

Currently, workers who feel they were unfairly dismissed can make a claim after 12 months in a job.

The report - which has not been made public - was written by Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist and Conservative Party donor.

The coalition government has previously stated it is committed to reforming employment laws. Chancellor George Osborne recently announced new measures aimed at restricting the number of unfair dismissal claims.

He announced that, from April 2011, an applicant must have been in their job for at least two years before being able to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

'Coasting' staff

However, Mr Beecroft's report goes further - calling for an end to unfair dismissal, a regulation that the report's author thinks is particularly abused by some in the public sector.

A draft seen by the Daily Telegraph warns that incapable workers are being left to "coast along". Firms also fear expanding because new staff may prove "unknown quantities" who are impossible to sack.

Start Quote

Over 20 years as a business owner I have had to deal with the expense, stress and loss of profit caused by 'bad' work colleagues ”

End Quote Alan Jones Leeds

The newspaper says a final draft of the document, dated 12 October 2011, argues the first major issue for British enterprise is "the terrible impact of the current unfair dismissal rules on the efficiency and hence competitiveness of our businesses, and on the effectiveness and cost of our public services."

It reports the document as saying: "The rules both make it difficult to prove that someone deserves to be dismissed, and demand a process for doing so which is so lengthy and complex that it is hard to implement.

"This makes it too easy for employees to claim they have been unfairly treated and to gain significant compensation."

Mr Cameron and others in the cabinet are considering the recommendations.

But Downing Street sources told BBC political correspondent Robin Brant no decisions had been made, and added it was "unlikely we would go further on unfair dismissal".

Lib Dem Norman Lamb, who is Nick Clegg's chief of staff, said it would be "madness" to bring in Mr Beecroft's proposals.

"If every employee in the land faced the prospect that they could be removed arbitrarily, the destabilising effect could be devastating," he said.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna told BBC News: "We've got 2.57 million people unemployed in this country.

"I find it absolutely extraordinary that the government should be preoccupying itself with how it can make it easier to fire people when in that context it should be looking at how it can make it easier to hire people."

'Profoundly unjust'

Unions have attacked the report, warning that the move would "horrify" workers.

Sarah Veale, head of the equality and employment rights department at the TUC, described the proposals as "profoundly unjust" and said Mr Cameron should "throw the report straight in the bin".

"We think it's offensive to huge numbers of hard-working people and actually I would also think it was offensive to the majority of employers who treat their staff fairly," Ms Veale told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

She went on: "I really do wish that the government would stop going on about how if you reduce employment protection laws somehow that will make the economy boom again and create growth - it's absolute rubbish."

There were less than a million unfair dismissal claims last year which was "absolutely nothing" out of a large workforce, said Ms Veale.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The clue is in the name. Employers already have plenty of powers to make fair dismissals.

"Giving them the right to act unfairly may go down well on the back benches, but will horrify employees."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said the report showed the true face of the "nasty" Tory Party.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, said the changes would be counterproductive and would not address the real problems.

"If you look at the evidence on unfair dismissal, I mean there isn't actually anything to suggest that watering down those rights would create any more jobs and indeed the job insecurity it would create would actually be bad for the economy and businesses.

"I think if you look at our productivity problem, it's down to poor investment, poor training and poor management."

In 2010-11 the cost to the taxpayer of running employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal in England, Wales and Scotland was more than £84m, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The Treasury said that more than 80% of applications made to an employment tribunal did not result in a full hearing.

Almost 40% of applicants withdrew their cases, but employers still had to pay legal fees in preparing a defence, it said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Did I read this correctly..

    "There were less than a million unfair dismissal claims last year which was "absolutely nothing" out of a large workforce, said Ms Veale."

    Less than a MILLION!??!!
    That's a preposterously large amount in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.


    "By the way aren`t unproductive workers a sign of poor management?"

    Yep, because nothing is ever your fault. It's always someone else's, for not motivating you enough, or not listening enough, or not caring enough, or not being understanding enough.

    No, workers never do anything wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    One problem is that GPs are far too willing to sign people off for dubious reasons at which point they become virtually untouchable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Are the unions aware of just how many of their members are totally hacked off with being paid the same and treated the same as non-productive, lazy, indolent colleagues? I for one would dearly love to see a number of colleagues fired as they drag the morale in the work place down for everyone and dampen pay rises for us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    Sounds like the kind of change wanted by lazy managers. In our organisation we have a capability and performance process which has been used to remove staff that can't do the job they're employed for. Yes, it does take a bit longer, but it gives the employee a chance to improve and the employer the justification to get rid of that person if they don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Best bit of news all day. Less power to employees. As a large scale employer this will make it much easier for me to sack my workers in favour of impoverished immigrants who will work longer for less money and less rights. Fantastic! what I imagine some people might be thinking right now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    As someone who's worked in the public sector for 11 years, I actually think a relaxation of the 'unfair dismissal' laws would be a good thing.

    I'm continually amazed at the uselessness of some of those who work in the public sector, who retain their jobs because it's too difficult to remove them. They end up being passed from dept to dept, where they're not really wanted, and remain unproductive!

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    This is not about scrapping unfair dismissal procedures for 'lazy workers' or the 'workshy' (that is what the Tribunal must establish), but scrapping it for ALL workers making it easier to get rid of anybody and replace them with temporary staff on pitiful wages who are even easier to get rid of. The Unions? ANYONE no a 'fat cat' should be up in arms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    What about the idea of a meritocracy? The best people rise to the top based on performance. I have worked in the public and private sector and neither one has a monopoly on hard work or laziness but the same rule should apply on every level.

    Managers should be free to sack unproductive or incompetent staff, but CEOs & board members should lose all 'golden parachutes' if they, in turn, are sacked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    3. If an employer performs badly, he is fired - his business closes down because customers don't come.
    4. You CAN fire an MP even if you don't like his face - it's a called a General Election.
    5. If YOU had to pick a plumber, mechanic, etc. - you would always pick the one charging the lowest price but providing the best service/product. This is NOT unfair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Most have your says are about ideas that get floated and then never go anywhere. Looks like this will be another. I wouldnt worry about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    I just adore the way post 158 received 3 -ve ratings! Why?
    Can those who rated please explain?

    It is far more cost-effective for an employer to improve a low-performer than to sack, and hire another.
    And, if an employer cannot adjust their costs/headcount, then they go bust, meaning everyone loses their jobs.

    No-one is advocating a repeal of employment laws, just a better balance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Let this same government in power make it very easy to sack MPS fiddling their expenses, rogue bankers and rogue journalists hacking into people phones. Now that will be start!
    The kettle is in no position to call the pot black. This same government has a log of wood in its eyes how they can manage to see the spec in another person's eyes is astounding!

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    This thread will almost certainly bring out the extreme Left/Right protaganists and leave the middle ground bereft of opinion.If it's proved that someone can't or won't do their job,where-ever or whatever it is then the boss should be able to deal with that inc the ultimate sanction of sacking.The reverse applies and thats where employment law should look after both workers & boss's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    How come there are suddenly all these nightmare workers suffocating production and fouling corporate ambitions?

    Look at historical Tory erotic dreams.
    They have no regard or respect for employees at the low end of their enterprise...never had!
    They hate the minimum wage...the Health Service and public
    transport...even public education.

    Cos the work pool in society is best kept starving!

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    I agree it should be easier to dismiss the workshy however there must be a distinction between workshy and poorly managed staff!!
    Managers must be accountable for their staff at all times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    There are robust laws in place already which allow employers to fairly dismiss staff who are underperforming. If there is genuinely a need to get rid of someone there is already a clear framework on how to do this fairly - surely people need to be given a warning and the opportunity to improve before being sacked?

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.


    I’m certain that if the laws are relaxed unscrupulous employers will abuse it and fabricate reasons for firing hard-working staff without recompense.
    Any decent company is not looking to fire hard working staff, they are looking to fire work shy lazy sods. The rules should be there to protect the hard working and not the good-for-nothings, but ATM, that is not the case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Whilst there will always be a miniority of poor employers, there are also employees who are lazy or just not good enough. At my work they revert straight to a tribunal if disciplined. I welcome this rebalancing of rights and ultimately think it will increase recruitment and overall employment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Protecting the rights of skivers is disgraceful.They should be sacked;I saw enough of 'em at work,and they all knew their 'rights'. Bring it on.


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