The Government has confirmed two key employment law changes, the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims will increase from one year to two and that a fee system will be introduced for employees who bring tribunal claims.

Charles Logan, Director at the leading recruiting expert Hays, comments on the proposed changes to unfair dismissal legislation:

“Reports suggesting new changes to unfair dismissal legislation highlight just how constrained many businesses feel by existing employment red tape. To remain competitive, it’s vital that the Government takes a fresh approach to employment law so businesses have the confidence to take on new staff. The employers we speak to are of course in favour of treating their staff fairly, but also want to be able to have grown up conversations with them and the Government should be providing the necessary support and guidance to help employers achieve this.

A recent report produced by the CBI in association with Hays, Thinking Positive: the 21st century employment relationship, explores how the relationship between employer and employee has changed in recent years. Through the recession, more flexible working relationships have been fostered that are based on open and honest communication and offer advantages to both parties.

The debate around unfair dismissal also highlights how damaging poor hiring practices can be. In this challenging climate where there is scrutiny over all spending, hiring the wrong candidate is simply not an option. Organisations need to hire the right person first time, and support them with strong performance management processes to keep them on track. There are also many over-stretched workers who need to be re-motivated and re-engaged to keep their performance high and both employers and employees have a responsibility here if we are going to be able to drive growth back into the UK economy.

Also responding to a government-commissioned report which says companies should be able to sack unproductive staff without explanation, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

‘Scrapping protection against unfair dismissal, even for people who have given years of loyal service, will do absolutely nothing to boost the economy. Indeed if people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs it will lead consumers to spend even less.
‘But while this proposal does nothing for growth, it does show the kind of economy those close to the Prime Minister want to create – one in which nasty bosses are given full license to undermine those trying to maintain decent standards.
‘The clue is in the name. Employers already have plenty of powers to make fair dismissals. Giving them the right to act unfairly may go down well on the backbenches, but will horrify employees.’