A controversial report recommending reforms to UK employment law released yesterday has generated mixed reactions from politicians and commentators.
The report conducted by Conservative-backer Adrian Beecroft was commissioned to find ways to free up British business from the dreaded ‘red-tape’ in a bid to boost employment and get the economy moving forward again.
The report includes proposals to shorten the consultation period for redundancies from 90 days to 30 days and to place a cap on compensation for loss-of-earnings for those dismissed for discriminatory reasons.
The Beecroft report also includes proposals to reform the rights which workers can ‘carry over’ to a new company if their old employer is taken over.
It is thought that changing the law in favour of employers might stimulate further employment opportunities and boost fiscal growth.
Some legal commentators have pointed out, however, that many of the report’s proposals are policies which were already circulating in government.
Christopher Mordue is an employment lawyer at firm Pinsent Masons.
According to Out-Law, Mr Mordue said: “The political controversy around the Beecroft report gives the impression that it is full of new ideas, at the radical or maverick end of a ‘pro-business’ approach, [but] a large part of the report actually ties in with reforms already announced or proposed in current government consultations.”
One of the more controversial reforms included in the report would allow small businesses to opt-out of legislation including that for unfair dismissal, effectively allowing managers to make ‘no-fault dismissals’.
This proposal has been met with a cool response from Business Secretary Vince Cable.
“Businesses are much more concerned about access to finance or weak demand than they are about [unfair dismissal],” said Mr Cable.
“At a time when workers are proving to be flexible in difficult economic conditions it would almost certainly be counterproductive to increase fear of dismissal,” he added.
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