Cable hails coalition employment law plans
Meredith Hurst Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The furore over the Coalition's plans to shake up employment legislation continues. Like fashion, employment laws come and go with successive seasons (or governments) and quite often changes hailed as groundbreaking are rarely new.
Take the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal which is set to rise to two years from next year. This is not a new initiative and takes us back to the late 90's.
The suggested introduction of fees to dissuade vexatious litigants and ensure that only the serious claims proceed seems like a good idea. This is no different from the civil regime where court fees are already an established part of the litigation landscape.
Where the coalition is making waves though is in the realm of so-called 'dismissals at will' - a term borrowed from the United States. This will empower employers to more easily terminate employment for poor performance.
Cable's suggestion is to promote the wider use of compromise agreements to settle disputes and to involve ACAS more in conciliation prior to litigation. He also suggests that the government will relax collective dismissal law which currently requires strict statutory compliance in cases involving the dismissal of 20 or more staff within a period of 90 days or less.
The impetus behind the reforms is to promote greater flexibility and to encourage employers to hire people without fear of costly litigation in a depressed market. Employment tribunals cost on average £4,000 per year and there were over 200,000 employment tribunal claims heard last year in the UK.