Reform employment laws?

November 16, 2011, 5:13 PM GMT+0

38% British say employee dismissal is too difficult, 19% too easy; 31% feel balance is about right

Almost two fifths of the British public feel that current employment laws make it too difficult for companies to dismiss employees, our survey has found.

  • 38% of Brits say the dismissal of unproductive workers is too difficult and should be made easier
  • 19% say dismissal is too easy and that employees deserve better protection
  • 31% feel that the balance is about right
  • 58% of Conservative supporters say that it is too difficult to dismiss unproductive employees, compared to 26% apiece of Labour supporters and Liberal Democrat supporters
  • Likewise, older people feel it should be easier to sack workers, with 47% of those over 60 saying this compared to 27% of people aged 18 to 24

‘Coasting along’?

The results come in light of news that a venture capitalist report recommending workers’ rights reform had been leaked late last month.

The report allegedly suggests that removing workers’ rights to claim unfair dismissal after only 12 months in the position would allow employers to replace unproductive employees with better ones, and help bolster growth.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the Coalition wants to make employee claims possible only if the dismissed worker had been in their job for more than two years. Current laws allow poor employees to simply ‘coast along’, the report is said to have claimed.

‘Offensive to hard-working people’

Commenting on the reports, however, Sarah Veale from the Trade Union Congress told the BBC that the recommendations were ‘offensive to huge numbers of hard working people’ and ‘the majority of employers who treat their staff fairly’.

Speaking of the proposals, economist John Philpott argued that ‘if you look at our productivity problem, it's down to poor investment, poor training and poor management’. ‘Watering down’ workers’ rights to make dismissal claims ‘would actually be bad for the economy and businesses’, he continued.

But while the general secretary of the GMB union said the report showed the Tory Party as ‘nasty’, Downing Street told the BBC that change to current unfair dismissal rules is ‘unlikely’.

See the survey details and full results here (page 10)