Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sacking with CONfidence (Part 3)

On the morning after the beginning of the latest series of The Apprentice, it was somehow ironically appropriate that Lib Dem Business Minister Ed Davey announced that the Government have now moved on from their plans to reduce individual employment protection (see Sacking with CONfidence Parts 1 & 2) to signal an assault on collective redundancy rights.

Currently, employers can make staff redundant as long as they put up a pretty simple business reason for doing so (which can be about as straightforward as just wanting to make some basic changes to the way they do things); where 20 or more people are affected by the same proposal, there are some timescales which are applied - if 20 people are affected, there must be at least 30 days consultation on a scale rising to 90 days consultation for more than 100 people. (Lower than 20, there must be "adequate" consultation, which ACAS have indicated should normally be around two weeks). The need to consult does not remove the employers' ability to proceed - it simply means that where a significant number of people may lose their livelihoods, there is an obligation to consult on alternatives to redundancy and on the process being undertaken (such as the criteria to be used for selecting precisely which staff will lose their jobs).

You're Fired! A bit more flexibility needed for Lord Sugah!
The Government today has decided that this is no good - in the free market profiteers lexicon that informs their thinking, consultation on people's livelihoods reduces industrial flexibility and so it is up for a full review, along with long established protection where jobs are transferred from one company to another (the TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment regulations). TUPE is intended to fit with the European-wide Acquired Rights Directive, which provides protection to employees throughout the European Union. Under this, if their employer's business is merged with another, their employment rights and terms and conditions must be at least as good as before. Britain may struggle to amend TUPE and still meet the legal requirements of the ARD, but it looks like our plucky ConDem masters are up for it.

How any of this will help the Government claimed objective of making it easier to employ staff, who knows? At present, you have to work two years to qualify for a maximum statutory redundancy payment of precisely £800 or 2 weeks pay, whichever is the lower - what a massive cost! The bankers must quake in fear when they think about having to shelve out so much to their cleaners. see what you'd get by clicking HERE, because who knows, one day it could be you.

It will be interesting to see how the new shout-out-loud Lib Dems face up to this: they have never been particularly sound on employees rights (really weird, given that by an overwhelming margin, most workers are employees) and they have been itching for decades to get rid of the Working Time Directive (in spite of being all in favour of it back in the early 1990s when they were so in favour of the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty). And of course, faux rebel Vince Cable, Business Secretary, will be ultimately responsible for the review of the legislation. Now doesn't that just so fill you with confidence?

God bless Blighty, land of the low paid and the maximum profit shareholders...

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