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 571.

    Fairly obvious, this is about giving employers a more flexible workforce.

    That means firing people more easily.

    And I'll tell you this, if the gov expects the UK to pull out of recession by asking people to spend, people won't part with their cash when they can't guarantee having a job next week, such is UK job security currently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    As an employer, willing to recruit, the current laws and procedures are what stops me doing it. We are very reasonable, pay over the market rate and are not at all unfair. Our experience though is that despite your best efforts it is easy to recruit people who turn out unsuitable, untrustworthy or just plain unco-operative. The result is we stay our present size. Hard luck Job seekers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    Hope this applies to white collar management and positions, on very fat salaries, too, but I'd expect their comparative lack of productivity will be null and voided in these proposals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    A stupid, demoralising, threatening suggestion and one which would be wide open to abuse. If a manager cannot deal with an under-performing employee within current law then that manager needs a lesson in performance management. Such changes could only be used to further threaten and bully the country's workforce in an effort to get more for less.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    377. JP
    As an employer I do NOT feel there is a need to change the law on Unfair Dismissal from it's current form [...]

    When someone who uses grocer's apostrophes makes pronouncements on employment law I ask my self questions; does this individual understand the law (since much of law requires an understanding of punctuation) and is this individual really an employer?

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    This should apply to MP's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    I wonder how difficult it is to dismiss a right wing venture capitalist? shouldn't be too difficult, would be a case of "being hoist with ones own petard"

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    Company greed does not meet country need.

    By that I mean individual companies that exploit far east/indian manufacturing do not realise the true cost to the UK. A widget in Korea cost less than 1 manufactured in UK, but add the unemployed into the equation it becomes more expensive, and it is these companies that invest abroad that cause the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Just another attack on poor paid workers in the UK from a Government that is so rich they have no idea of the "Real" world of work.

    It is so easy to sack someone in this country its a disgrace!!

    They now want to make it even easier for Bosses to just get rid of someone for no real reason.

    We need more protection not less!

    Are you listening Labour ,fight for the poor and not the rich Employers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    We all know about the 'lead swingers' that use every trick in the book not to work and then do the same not to be fired. If these folk were to put the same amount of energy in to actuly working we would all be better off!

  • Comment number 561.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    "530 smartignoramus - "TMR, it happens today! Especially in large, USA Corporations operating in the UK.
    No law change reqd!!!!"

    543.jephthud "Good point, but if you resist & point out the error of their ways, they will back down (in my experience)."

    Sadly, not in mine (or, rather, people who I know).
    Many have followed the Grievance Process to the bitter end without success.

    It is appalling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    Good boy @ 537. Absolute rubbish and untrue! 40%called off because of no case? Stress, anxiety, fear of facing big corporation barristers, stigma when applying for new jobs, no or bad references, length of time it takes, having to prepare all the documents perfectly in case they aren't accepted and no training to do so, fighting the system, depression, and I know because I've done it. Get real

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    I was offered promotion if I helped to get another employee dismissed when I refused I was targeted by a senior alcoholic manager. I safe guarded myself by recording conversations that I had with him. I was left well alone after that. If anyone is treated unfairly they should be able to do something about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    .This is long overdue, we need jobs creating and the impossibility of getting rid of duff employees is a disincentive to taking people on.
    Not a 'right on' or very pleasant view I know but from personal experience I really do believe that and in my case it is absolutely true.
    ***There is no problem now except for managers too idle to record and go through fair procedures. Are you one?

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    Why do the conservatives seemingly hate workers so much? I've never understood this.

    Surely A happy, secure, productive workforce is good for everyone? It's workers who keep this country running is it not? A company with nothing but managers is not going to produce much.

    So why are they always under attack?

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    527 - Are you sure ?, after an op on my spinal cord I was hounded out for being unfit to work, I was due to have a 2nd op and would be off for 3mths. I was offered 3mths pay to accept being dismissed with compensation or face the sack with nothing.

    The Employer... HMRC !!! This Gov't already does what it likes, it attacks the vulnerable, destroys moral and protects its own kind. CON-DEMS OUT !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    #535 locust.
    And thats a badge of honour well done sir what a good little patriot not!.

    The truth of your comment is probably about profit which maybe a justified decision, but if you are saying that it was done because of the UK work ethic you are laughable and just what this country doesn't need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    This is a big stick or whip for big business to beat low payed workers with no rights or conditions in the U K work place. What about holidays some peple will be sacked becaues the company wanted you to work christmas day and every bank holiday for no extra pay like many private care companys do today. This is going back to old fashion tory values beggers and the work houses' and deportation

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    its a choice a move towards sweatshop britain or high skilled britain,..

    We can either aim for the lowest denominator or the highest...looks like we're aiming for the lowest.


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