'No fault' dismissal?

June 06, 2012, 11:40 AM GMT+0

39% say should be 'easier to sack' employees; 17% say it's currently too easy; 33% say 'about right'

Recent proposals that British companies should be able to hire and fire employees more easily have been met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from Britons, with one third saying that the 'hire-fire' balance currently allowed in business is 'about right', and almost one in five people saying that employees should actually have more protection.

Relatedly, almost half of Britons support proposals to allow small businesses to opt out of certain business regulations, compared to one third disagreeing.

  • 39% say it is too difficult for companies to dismiss employees and they should be made easier to sack
  • 33% say the current balance is about right
  • 17% say that it is currently actually too easy for companies to dismiss employees and they should have more protection

An employment report commissioned by Number 10, and written up by Tory party donor and Downing Street adviser Adrian Beecroft, has recently stirred debate after recommending that companies should have the power to fire staff at will without explanation.

The Government initially ruled out the controversial proposal, known as ‘no fault dismissal,’ but is reportedly still considering allowing small businesses to use the scheme.

Should small businesses be able to opt out?

On the subject of small businesses, almost half of Britons support proposals to allow them to opt out of usual business regulations, while one third opposes the idea.

  • 49% would support allowing small businesses with fewer than ten employees to opt out of some business regulations such as providing flexible working, flexible parental leave and a pension scheme
  • 33% oppose allowing small businesses to opt out of business regulations such as these

The business secretary, Vince Cable, has condemned the no fault dismissal suggestion, saying it is 'the wrong approach' and could leave a 'dead hand of fear' over employees.

Call to evidence

The Beecroft report has generated much debate: Business Secretary Vince Cable has gone so far as to call the proposal 'nonsense', with no place in Britain. Cable also stated that hiring and firing rights have very rarely been a barrier to growth, despite Beecroft claiming that such recommendations for reform had a large following among businesses.

Indeed, the Coalition has clashed over the recommendations, with Deputy PM Nick Clegg attacking the 'hire and fire' proposals, "for the simple reason I have not seen any evidence that creating industrial-level insecurity for workers is a good way of creating new jobs," he said.

Objections ‘not economical’?

However, Mr Beecroft has hit back at objections, telling the Daily Telegraph that the Business Secretary’s objections were 'ideological, not economic'. The venture capitalist went on to accuse Mr Cable of being a 'socialist' who was unfit for office and had done very little to support business.

Concerns over certain claims made by the Beecroft report have been highlighted by barrister and law journalist Anya Palmer, who has questioned the report's suggestion that some employees take advantage of their rights and simply ‘coast along’. She argues that, coupled with austerity measures, the proposed reforms could lead to unfair dismissals.

“Let us be clear: these proposals would apply to all employees, not just lazy or unproductive ones,” she commented.

See the survey details and full results here (Page 6)