How hard is it to sack an employee? According to the Chancellor, George Osborne, the fear of unfair dismissal claims has been a significant disincentive to hiring new employees: if businesses can’t sack them later, they won’t take people on now. But the evidence to prove it relied on anecdotes, not economics.
In November, Vince Cable said he was considering a new system of “compensated no-fault dismissals” for “micro firms” (with 10 or fewer employees). The proposal was to allow small employers to dismiss for poor performance without first needing to take steps to manage under-performance. However, he seemed lukewarm. Lawyers and journalists have been speculating since then about what exactly would emerge from the discussions inside government.
Now we have the answer. This proposal has been quietly killed off, and erased from the new law going through parliament, the “Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill”. There is to be no new system of no-fault termination of employment. Employers will have to carry on using the existing mechanisms.
Employers often see employment law as a problem. But there are solutions which are simple and cheap. Just as a business needs a health and safety risk assessment and a policy on risk management, equally it needs paperwork to reduce the risk of employment problems.
Putting in place effective contracts of employment and disciplinary procedures is not just a good way to reduce risk. It can also be a valuable tool for the business to take a moment to stop and think before a final decision is made. That way, better decisions are made. A specialist employment lawyer can make these easy to use day to day, and totally legal.
For difficult cases, where something has gone wrong, or the situation is complicated, a little legal advice is usually a sound investment.
And in the most complicated cases, a specialist employment lawyer can usually offer the simplest (if not cheapest) solution of all: a compromise agreement. These need careful handling, but they offer employers, large and small, a low-risk way of achieving a compensated no-fault termination of employment.
If you were not given a valid reason for your dismissal, or your employer did not follow the right protocol when you were sacked, you could make an unfair dismissal claim. If a request for maternity leave or flexible working to which you are entitled led to your dismissal, you could also claim unfair sacking.
For more information, contact the specialist employment law team at Tayntons LLP, Gloucestershire for expert legal advice.