Apparently (I say apparently as I found this in the Daily Mail) Cameron is including something a wee bit weird in his ‘Employer’s Charter’ for businesses: the ability to sack people for two years without fear of an unfair dismissal claim. I say it’s weird because it’s also pretty much redundant for the majority of people.
As it stands, you generally have to have one year of work with an employer under your belt before you take them to an Employment Tribunal. However, you don’t need this if you have been dismissed for an ‘automatically unfair reason’. As Directgov states:
“If your employer dismisses you for exercising or trying to exercise one of your statutory (legal) employment rights you will have been automatically unfairly dismissed.
An employees statutory employment rights include a right to:
- a written statement of employment particulars
- an itemised pay statement
- a minimum notice period
- maternity, paternity or adoption leave
- time off for antenatal care
- parental leave
- time off for dependants
- the right to request flexible working arrangements
- not to be discriminated against because of your gender, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age
- guaranteed pay when work is not available for you
- time off for public duties (eg jury service)
- protection against unlawful deductions from wages
- remuneration during suspension on medical grounds
- refusing to do shop or betting work on a Sunday
- making a public interest disclosure or ‘blowing the whistle’ “
That’s quite the list. So why am I making a fuss if this doesn’t seem to affect the majority of people?
Well, what’s interesting about Cameron’s move is the timing: unfair dismissal through being chosen for redundancy, in the middle of industrial disputes and for trade union reasons will all now be covered by this proposed time extension. So if you even have a nice employer, they can still fire you for being on strike if you have spent 729 days in their company. If you have spent 729 days with Company A and you join a union, they can fire you and you will not be allowed to say how petty and unfair that is in court. No money, no clearing of your reputation, just fired.
I personally believe that you should be able to take your employer to court from day one. Speaking as a victim of workplace bullying, to the extent that it left me fragile and paranoid, I found it hard to stomach that I couldn’t take them to court after I resigned for constructive dismissal – because I’d worked there for eight months. It’s not fair – and I like fairness.
Oh, and the thing that I really hate about that article? Is the ‘Whitehall source’ who insinuates that without this, taking on younger people would be hellish as they’d be able to be crap, take time off, be ill and generally mooch off you for years. Have these people never heard of performance management or age discrimination? Clearly they’ve heard of generalisations. Idiots.