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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The continuing attack on the rights of workers

The government is continuing in its efforts to remove rights to Employment Protection.

This is the right of workers to have the security of knowing that cannot be sacked by their bosses without good reason. Any attempt to remove these rights would take us back to Victorian times –

The initial plan was simply to remove the right to claim for Unfair Dismissal. This was put forward on the spurious grounds that it would remove red tape and stimulate the economy. Why is the right to a fair dismissal reduced to such cynical language? We are talking here about peoples’ livelihoods.

The plans to abolish the right altogether were abandoned but have been replaced by new proposals which are equally disturbing. The idea now is to slash the levels of compensation. If you win a claim for Unfair Dismissal you get damages under two headings. You get a Basic Award to reflect that you were dismissed unfairly. This is normally linked to the number of years of continuous employment. Then you get a compensatory award which is mainly for loss of earnings. The present cap for compensatory award is £73k. Under the new rules this will be reduced to just £26k or a years pay whichever is lower. So if you are on £12k a year that is all you get. If you are on £60k a year you get £26k. It does not take a genius to see that some unscrupulous employers will do the sums and decide to sack for no reason and pay the lower amount.

This is on top of existing plans to make claimants pay fees to Tribunals. It could cost well over £1k to take a case to a Hearing. This is a double whammy. It will deter many workers from pursuing claims. They have just lost their job so they are hardly going to be in a position to shell out that sort of money. And it will be an incentive for employers to fight all cases in the knowledge that many sacked workers will lose heart as the bills are racked up.

All of this seems to be designed to make it increasingly difficult if not impossible to bring a dismissal claim.

Taking away the rights of people to protect their rights is the same as removing those very rights.

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