The Conservative Chairman, Grant Shapps, has claimed that employers are forced to come up with “disingenuous” reasons to dismiss staff because UK employment laws are too restrictive and stacked in favour of the employee.
Indicating that a Conservative party Government would make it easier for companies to fire underperforming workers, Shapps said:
“In the next Conservative manifesto you will see an attempt to make employment law reflect the realities of modern Britain and proper business rather than a fantasy world where you only have two options and both are completely inadequate for both the employee and the firm.”
Mr Shapps continued by commenting on his own issues with “crazy” employment laws:
“I started a printing company 23 years ago, it still runs to this day, and we always sat there and wondered how it is that when you know that somebody is not working out right for the company, they are just not fitting in to that role, you have to effectively end up coming up with disingenuous reasons why you need to change that role.”
“Either you have to say that role itself is now redundant and re-engineer the way the department operates or you have to say that person was so bad at their job that you must fire them, and it’s disciplinary and will go on their record.
“That means there are only two ways of dealing with wanting to bring a contract to an end. You either have to pretend the role has gone, or you have to fire the person. That is crazy; it doesn’t stack up to what really happens out there in the real world.”
Providing opinion on what he believes should happen in the future, Mr Shapps said:
“We should as a country say there is a way of saying to people: ‘Thank you very much, it has not worked out. Here is a good decent package to move on from this role.’ That is not hire and fire.
“Those are the sort of changes the Conservatives would like to see, but have not been able to introduce in this parliament due to the coalition.”
In response to his comments, Ian Murray, Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, said:
“Grant Shapps appears to be admitting that he has broken the law by making up ‘disingenuous reasons’ to sack his own employees.
“The Government should be making it easier to hire people, not easier to fire people – but now the Tory Chairman is raising serious questions about his own record as an employer. He needs to come clean and clarify exactly what he meant by these comments.”
Mr Shapps made the comments during a speech yesterday (31 July) about how the Conservatives were supporting hardworking British people, however Union chiefs have since hit back at his remarks, claiming that the Government is seeking to strip all protections from employees.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said:
“People at work should be very afraid. Rather than bearing down on workplace abuses like the misuse of zero-hours contracts, Shapps reveals that the priority for a Conservative Government would be to make it even easier to sack employees.
“Already people have to wait two years – a one year increase – to get protection against unfair dismissal. This adds up to scrapping all protection.”
Commenting on the possibility of it becoming easier for employers to sack their staff, Workplace Law’s HR Consultants have provided their views.
Tar Tumber stated:
“My view is that natural justice will disappear. I agree that firms should be able manage employees who need managing and remove staff or jobs that are no longer needed, but in a way that is appropriate, legal and fair.
“Organisations should not be able to make stuff up to just get rid of people. We already now have a two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal; employee shareholder contracts are being introduced; and there is the potential for employers to possibly abuse settlement agreements.
“For the Government to suggest they will provide more ways to ‘sack employees’ rather than create employment stability fills me with concern.”
Heidi Thompson added:
“I completely agree with Tar’s sentiments. We already have a way of managing staff and just need to make sure we follow a sound process.”