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 391.

    What needs to be addressed is where every employee gets a yearly pay rise whether they work well or not, which is how it use to be. It is really annoying someone getting the same pay rise when they are consistantly late for work,take many ill days and do very little when they do arrive. This is the type of person who should bw dismissed if they go back on any agreement. I use to work with some

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    People who think that they cannot be dismissed on performance grounds as they are “hard workers” are deluding themselves. That’s why current employment legislation exists- to stop the abuses that were perpetrated in the past.

    It amazes me the amount of people who are keen to have their rights eroded… and these people have the vote!

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    How does one define 'lazy' and 'unproductive' - is this another step to strip away workers' rights? The government seems to desire a slave nation in which the majority have no life, but sacrifice all for the sake of fat-cats. With much unemployment, employers should be encouraged to employ more and stop unpaid overtime and getting one to do the jobs of two. Managers are responsible for morale!

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    Notice how you never hear about an MP being "let go" due to poor performance. In fact, I don`t think an MP who is not performing can be given the sack. Come to think of it, MPs don`t just have better job protection than the rest of us, they also have their pension linked to a different index than the rest of us too. After me, we are all in this together

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.


    Oh it's absolutely not just the NHS; yes it exists everywhere.

    That being said, I'd argue the NHS creates an environment that encourages these issues to arise. You're basically guaranteed promotions based on tenure as results are hard to measure, and when you've been there 15+ years, you become the establishment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    However, you do have a 'right' to start your own business and work for yourself, then you could demand all the 'rights' you want.
    So only people who have their own business have any rights. Do they also have responsibilities? Cos it seems to me that YOU have all the rights, yet I bear all the responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    I have just retired(65) from a Company who have made 12 packers 'redundant' due to acquiring a 'new' machine.
    The Company employs 12 Polish workers(several husband/wife pairs), none of whom were made redundant.
    The machine hadn't been researched properly so have taken on temporary workers!!!
    The Director of this Company is a weekend Christian who disciplines workers absent through flu.
    Work life!

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    Absolutely agree Bowlie, 254.
    As a senior manager for many years and having been through two tribunals on the employers side I can still say industrial employment law has only helped employers to get their act together and be clear what performance is expected from their employees. I have heard too many lazy managers cite the law as the reason they can't manage their staff. It is a nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    As a nearly honest person once said ‘if I ran this organisation, I would not employ me to do this job’.
    The essential of managing employment law is the right peg in the right hole that is only achieved by an employers employing people who are better at the job than they are. Due to human nature this is something which only happens occasionally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    I was sacked recently because "I would not fit in". Even though I had qualifying service for unfair dismissal the tribunal portrayed me as someone who wouldn't follow instructions. They disregarded the fact that I have Asperger's Syndrome and had turned up to work as I had been asked to do so by a senior manager. So you can guess I'd be against this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    338.Lucy Lastic
    When you come up with new technology then we might take notice of you.
    I take it you do not read many of of the science journals these days. To pretend you invented everything is not only wrong, but is an insult to your previous generation, who made your inventions possible. You are also standing on the shoulders of giants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    The "nasty" face of the Tory party, eh? I'm not sure how it's "nasty" to suggest that some people deserve to be sacked and that forcing them to raise their game will be detrimental to the economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    It is what the conservatives do best.
    Dismantle any form of employee rights that have been gained and hard fought for.
    Then we could at least have the great honor and privilege of sweeping their chimneys again.
    Not a clue what the lib dems stand for. have you???

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.


    Hello your spudship. Doesn`t it occur to anyone that useless workers are taken on by useless managers with poor judgement who all too often rely on cras "HR" managers and directors who only know how to build little empires withot knowing the first thing about running a business ? Just look at the application forms for minimum pay jobs with some of our largest companies .

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    As an employer I do NOT feel there is a need to change the law on Unfair Dismissal from it's current form, however, there does need to be an overhaul of the way Tribunals are managed. At present an employee can bring an ET without any cost to them yet the average cost to the employer is £4k. There system needs re-balancing so the cost risk is the same for both sides.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    'If a person suffers UNFAIR dismissal, no amount of government changes to the rules is going to suddenly make it FAIR.'

    This legislative suggestion is aimed at making the term 'Unfair' illegal in the work place!
    Not all companies are run under dubious practice, but are outnumbered by those that actually do.
    This is Tory ethics aimed at allowing employers to treat workers anyway they want!

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    i am being taken to a tribunal now by an incompetant employee who in the end became unaffordable i made him redundant he refused to accept is now taking me to court he told acas that he doesnt care if he closes me down making 5 people unemployed and ive been told its not if he gets compensated but a case of how much, the system is ridicalous i cant pay his wages how can i pay compensation

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    @ 349.Rikiiboy

    What an excellent idea! And after the 5 year period, the assessment criteria for employers to re-fill their vacancies will be whether or not candidates know the difference between 'loose' and 'lose'. How about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Firstly I appreciate that this issue has already had the thumbs down from the powers that be, but in response to many posts agreeing with the point:

    Of course we must remember that all managers in the UK are angelic beings who would act morally and responsibly, and would never abuse the ability to sack an employee without a decent reason...

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Let me get this straight.
    Are we talking about being unproductive in absolute or relative terms?
    Someone might do their job well, but if someone better comes, should we sack the first person?
    How about replacing most of the workforce with robots, they do not need any wages and can work 24/7. Oh, wait, it is already happening in some places, sigh...


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