DISMISSING staff will soon be a less risky exercise for UK employers. The top payout for unfair dismissal claims is being lowered. It will also be easier to discuss dismissal openly and to negotiate settlements under which staff agree to leave in return for a payout. This will replace the current silly system which either sees dismissals challenged in employment tribunals or employees apparently “being made redundant”.
Trades unions welcome an announcement that no-fault dismissals are not to be made law, but say that reducing payouts for unfair dismissals will let bad employers off lightly and deter victims from pursuing genuine cases.
Of course, the law has to balance employee rights against an environment that allows businesses to invest in growth without the fear of being forced to keep employees who aren’t up to scratch. Smaller employers in particular can be disproportionately affected by just one non-performer on staff. On top of the performance impact huge amounts of management time gets tied up complying with complex employment rules – a few years ago the UK Government implemented compulsory dismissal and disciplinary procedures which tied up employers in red tape and, far from achieving the aim of protecting staff, forced simple performance-improvement discussions into a formal procedure that terrified the very staff they were intended to protect. But not only did it terrify them, it didn’t protect them either. Employers simply moved into protect-your-back mode to show procedural compliance and the whole notion of helping an employee to improve, and identifying those who can’t, went out the window.
We at Spinnaker say that it is about time some common sense were injected into the whole issue!