This Summer, The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will be introduced with Vince Cable, the business secretary, stating that ‘people who work hard and do the right thing (will be) rewarded.’
Sounds fair? Dig a little deeper.
Staff who feel they’ve been unfairly sacked will find it much more difficult to raise a case – there will be a cap on compensation for unfair dismissal and new charges for bringing a claim.
This is on top of the time employees have to work for their company before they can file an unfair dismissal claim – a shocking rise from one to two years.
As many of you will know, I was unfairly dismissed from my job last Autumn for having MS. Thankfully, I had worked for just over two years and recently the case was settled in my favour. However I know of people in low-paid jobs who are routinely ‘dismissed’ from their jobs right before the two-year cut off, only to see those same jobs quickly re-advertised.
Until now, taking a case to a tribunal has been free. Once the bill is passed, the proposed new fees will be £250 for lodging a standard claim and a further £950 if it goes to a hearing. How many people who are sacked can even contemplate these charges? And with legal aid being drastically scaled back, few will be able to fight back.
Even more Orwellian is the introduction of ‘protected conversations’, where an employer can take you aside out of the blue, offer to pay you to leave and you won’t be able to use anything said in the discussion as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim (discrimination cases are exempt from this). This protects your employer, not you. Presently, employers only have this protection once a formal dispute has already been raised regarding your performance.
For people already fighting to keep their jobs in the midst of a recession, especially for those with a disability, this is devastating news. Bullying bosses have been handed even more power, and this time it comes government-backed.