Proposals to streamline employment law are a step in the right direction towards making it easier for employers to dismiss disruptive staff, according to leading retailers.
Business secretary Vince Cable last week announced plans to: reduce the cap on compensation for unfair dismissal claims streamline employment tribunals by making it easier for judges to dismiss weak cases and to introduce settlement agreements in which employees would typically receive a severance payment in return for waiving their right to take a case to a tribunal.
Welcoming the proposals, Norfolk retailer Nigel Dowdney, who employs 42 staff across two stores, said: “At the moment the system is against us if you’ve got a bad apple. If there is a compromise I support it entirely.
“I had to sack someone two weeks ago who had been on the fiddle, and had to go through the hoops - three written warnings, two disciplinary meetings, and so on.”
Nigel said the employee had upset his other members of staff because they knew he was being dishonest over his hours. “We have to get rid of people like that to prevent disruption. I would’ve been far happier giving him £200 and saying goodbye.”
Cambridgeshire retailer Jonathan James added: “Employment laws can be a minefield, so any simplification can only be a good thing for us. A few years ago I had to pay thousands of pounds in lawyers’ fees when dealing with a disruptive employee.”
But Sanjeev Vadhera of North East Convenience Stores in Whickham, Durham, was less positive. “The cap on tribunal payout may seem an advantage, but an award could still be significant and is a huge risk to a business. These reforms simply make it cheaper to dismiss, rather than easier. A one-year pay award or £26,000 (whichever is lower) is still a significant burden on an employer,” he said.
“What we need as employers is an easier route to remove incompetence in the workplace.”
Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “Removing underperforming employees is a last resort for any employer. In our submission to the employment law review we asked for employers to have greater certainty and protection from claims for unfair dismissal. We welcome the fact that government has listened and will work to ensure members understand the new rules once they come into force.”