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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Employment Rights

Well it didn't take long to start the attack on employment rights. On the day the PM is talking about 'a pro-jobs agenda', his government is planning to destroy them by reducing the minimal protection workers have in this country.

A consultation later this week will set out a range of reforms making it even easier for small firms to hire and fire staff. Among them is a potential doubling, to two years, of the length of time someone must be employed before they can bring an unfair dismissal claim. Another proposal would be to require anyone bringing a case to an employment tribunal to pay a fee, returnable if they win, allegedly in an effort to discourage spurious claims. In reality to stop claims from staff, who having been sacked, won't have the cash to do this.

We have the usual business organisations trumpeting their support. The British Chambers of Commerce said employment tribunals were in "dire need" of reform and weighted in favour of workers. Instead of addressing poor employment practice in their member organisations, they want to encourage bad employers.

As someone who manages legal services I see a lot of ET claims and outcomes. Far from being weighted in favour of workers, it is very difficult to prove unfair dismissal. Only the really bad employer conduct cases succeed.  In fact, according to the latest official statistics only 10% of unfair dismissal claims are successful at Tribunal. The average for all types of claims is only 13%.

So Prime Minister, this is an issue of fairness and justice, something you claim to be concerned about. The hint is in the title, workers are only protected from UNFAIR dismissal.

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