Easier and cheaper to sack workers

Government makes it easier and cheaper to sack workers

Appalling new cuts to workers' rights are to take effect from 29 July.

In the last ten days the government has confirmed that workers will be at greater threat of dismissal through 'protected conversations', and that compensation in successful unfair dismissal cases will be reduced.

These changes come in addition to the introduction of fees to take a case to an employment tribunal – already due to begin that day.

"More than ever workers need unions to support them at work and to help them enforce their rights," said Prospect legal officer Marion Scovell.

'Confidential' threats to leave

New rules will mean that employers can make 'offers' for an employee to leave, without going through any disciplinary or performance procedures. Employees will not be able refer to these protected conversations in any subsequent unfair dismissal claims.

Unscrupulous employers could completely by-pass existing disciplinary or capability procedures. They could identify who they want to dismiss and make the worker an offer to leave quietly. While the worker would not have to accept, they may feel they have no choice.

"Prospect is appalled at the law seeking to legitimise such bad practice by giving employers additional scope to dismiss workers without proper reason," said Scovell. "Union members will be able to seek expert advice to resist such unfairness."

Less compensation

A significant cut in the amount that tribunals can award in unfair dismissal cases also comes into effect on 29 July.

Currently tribunals have discretion to award compensation of up to £74,200. Under the new rules the maximum award will be the lower of either 52 weeks' pay or £74,200. Someone earning £25,000, for example, would have their potential compensation cut by two thirds.

Prospect has argued that there should be no maximum set for compensation. If an employer is found to have unfairly dismissed an employee, they should fully recompense the individual.

Just part of the barrage

Additionally fees to bring employment tribunal cases will be introduced, and new powers for tribunals to strike out cases and award higher costs.

"This onslaught on rights makes 29 July a very sad day for workers; it re-emphasises the value of unions to ensure there is someone on your side to fight for fairness at work," Scovell said.