Are we at last seeing evidence of the beginnings of brave, blue skies thinking? Leaked proposals prepared for Downing Street by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft suggest scrapping the present rules around unfair dismissal – making it easier for companies to fire underperforming employees.
Official sources say the proposals are unlikely to be adopted, but at least it seems the government may finally be ready to consider some steps to actually help get British business moving again.
The mere suggestion that present labour laws are holding back business – and depressing employment – has prompted hysterical reactions from predictable quarters such as the trade unions. Any change from the present regime will be a recipe for exploitation, arbitrary decision-making and even a collapse in consumer confidence, they claim. They are wrong.
We have somehow created an environment in which it is now illegal for a boss to swiftly, sensibly and intelligently reach the conclusion that an employee should be let go. Well, to be entirely accurate, they can reach such a conclusion but they just can’t communicate it to the worker in question.
Instead, a protracted dance of the seven veils is often gone through. Strings of oral or written warnings are issued in order to comply with statute. Some token effort at 'retraining' is attempted so a box can be ticked. Or perhaps, a convoluted restructuring process is undertaken just in order to remove a staff member or two through redundancy.
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