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 271.

    #254:exactly that's how employers carry out after all those verbal and written warnings-involving HR. In my working experience, I haven't seen any other way!
    &Lots of people talk about management-I never got into trouble with management because I am always a good worker. And I got promoted thro internal interviews within 3 years to my seniors of 10 years service! True service always deserves merit

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    It should be straightforward to get rid of poor employees because anyone with an ounce of sense - be that a manager or a fellow employee - can recognise one a mile off. Likewise with good performers.

    So it seems to me as if it's the letter of the law that's failing. The principle is fine, so long as it really is 'unfair' dismissal one is suffering from.

    Maybe it just needs a minor rewrite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    "This whole article is basically saying that impartial chairs of employment tribunals are getting the majority of thier cases wrong?"

    This comment is typical of the hysterical response that seems to be endemic here.
    Utterly wrong, misleading, and intended to "prove" their post is right, by claiming something that is utterly wrong.

    BBC should "sack" posters for peddling lies !

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    At the end of the day, you shouldn't be allowed to keep your job if you're not good enough (or can't be bothered) to do it.

    If the laws protect these people then it should be changed. Its moronic to allow these people in jobs when there are plenty of better people out there who will do more for the money. Evidence of poor performance would be required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    When does "lazy" mean too old? or sick?
    Many companies will just fire people after two years to avoid coming into the "unfair dismissal" window.
    In many countiries freeing up the labour market leads only to instability incertainty and stress
    What is needed is a clear procedure where poor workers can be helped to achieve the needs of their vocation.
    Training and communication

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    As others have said: it is already possible to get rid of useless employees. Unfair dismissal means just that, it was unfair. If tribunals are making wrong decisions then tribunals need overhauling. To discourage time-wasters, fine those who bring false claims. Yes, companies should be able to dismiss the lazy or incompetent but not ruin someones life simply because they may not like them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    Put frankly, I find the concept of lazy workers not being able to appeal common sense, employees should be proteced by law, but so should employers, so neither take advantage of the other. If you don't do your job, you don't keep it. My concern is with the actual implementation. How do you measure performance fairly? This is not as absolute as some might expect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    Does this apply to MPs ? Lazy & unproductive could be applied to a number of them !

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Just how do you decide if a person is under performing/poor performance? Everyone goes through a stage of poor performance in every job they do, either through lack of incentive, or issues outside of work. As for a Hedge fund manager suggesting the changes these guys are the last that should be commenting on government policy, they're in part responsible for the problems with pensions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    i'm sure there are lots of 'poor' workers using this forum whilst being paid to do their JOB?

    get real - i'm not paying you to be on here/facebook/ebay etc - but to do the job you are employed to perform!

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    @203 Stoic
    I agree that packages that are multiples of an annual salary are excessive but this country's mandatory £400 for every year you have worked at the company (as of Feb 2011), is very poor. In Finland for example, statutory redundancy is a full 1 years’ salary.
    The current UK state minimum payment is far from adequate and is in fact insulting to the majority of hard working folk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    #212 .
    "Is it too hard to recognise there are many who deserve benefits, but many who do not?
    Is it too hard to recognise there are many productive workers, but many who are not?"
    The premise of your argument seems to be we have a 50% 50% split of good and bad workers where I think you will find the reality is more like a couple of % who don't contribute equally?lets keep the debate real.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    Surely if workers are bad/lazy etc a manager should be able to prove that that's what performance management is about if a manager can't manage to prove that the staff are lazy bad or whatever maybe they need to check their management skills

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Surely the point about "unfair dismissal" is that it has to be unfair? Workers who are no good at their job can be dismissed NOW by going through the correct procedure. It is better that it might take a couple of months to get rid of someone fairly than have a system where perfectly competent workers can be sacked on a whim.
    If being unproductive was a sin, David Cameron would be the first to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Good managers will motivate staff to get best performance from them. This requires skill and practice. If you have a "one size fits all" style you will fail as a manager. Legislation allows dismissal of poor performs if procedures are followed correctly. Too many 'managers' can't be bothered to find out what they should be doing to get rid of persistent poor performers

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    mmm...I wonder how many of the commentators here moaning about workshy employees are actually posting on HYS while they're supposed to be working,,

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    no, this needs stopped! big businesses already have to much power

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Just a minute. This only encourages bad and lazy management. If you want to terminate an employee 'fairly' it isn't difficult. Talk to the employee, set mutually agreeable goals and objectives, review constantly, and document everything. If, and only if the employee ignores verbal and written warnings then they should be terminated; fairly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    Would solicitors and barristers (and some cowboy tradesmen) unless a fixed price is agreed (good luck) get the sack for dragging their feet over cases to increase their hourly pay from often scared and cash strapped clients.
    No because it is in the firms/ individuals interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    I cant believe the people on here who are saying that redundancy packages are too small or that unions are there for the workshy. I am not workshy,It is not my fault I am being made redundant. Without protection against unfair dismissal laws and rights of appeal then we would all be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. Wait until you have to go through the same.


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