*UPDATE – 27th January 2011*
Vince Cable Leads the Coalition Governments Attack on Employee Rights
The Government has recently announced that it is considering changing employment law to restrict employees’ right to bring unfair dismissal proceedings against their employers until the employee has worked for two years or more. Currently, the qualifying length of service is only one year.
I am frequently approached by employees with less than a year’s service who have been dismissed from their jobs in a very cavalier fashion. They are often dismissed with no procedure and without any real justification – occasionally they have no real idea of why they have been sacked.
This is, of course, extremely traumatic for the employee and can often cause financial hardship for them and their families.
The extension of the qualifying period for two years will only increase this problem. Employees will have no sense of job security until they have been working for their employers for over two years.
The justification for this is that it will allow employers greater freedom and flexibility when hiring and firing employees. The sad consequence, however, is that many more employees will simply be regarded as dispensable commodities by ruthless employers.
It is arguable that employers already have more than sufficient time to assess the suitability of their employees during their first year of employment. If an employee is incompetent or simply doesn’t fit in to the organisation, an employer can, under current legislation, let them go quite easily within a year. Why the employer needs an additional year is unclear.
It is also possible that such a move could cause a degree of stagnation in the labour market. Employees with more than two years’ service may be reluctant to move to a new position because they will not regain their employment rights until they have been with their new employer for two years or more.
Whether the Government goes forward with this proposal is not yet certain, but such a move could be seen as highly provocative in a fragile economy where unemployment is high and likely to increase and in which workers are already feeling targeted.
For more details please see our unfair dismissal pages.