When the Beecroft report’s recommendation of ‘Compensated
No Fault Dismissal’ was first leaked back in October, Norman Lamb was one of the
strongest Lib Dem voices to speak out against it, describing it as ‘madness’. Back then, he was Nick Clegg’s chief of staff. Now, thanks to Chris Huhne’s resignation and Ed
Davey’s promotion, he’s in an even better position to prevent this ‘madness’: Employment Minister in the Department for Business.
As James has said, the Lib Dem MPs are unanimous in their opposition to Beecroft’s proposals,
and until recently it didn’t look like they would be translated into policy at all. But last week, George Osborne "http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7697973/osborne-backs-the-beecroft-proposals.thtml">threw his weight behind the plans by calling on businesses to provide evidence to the government in
favour of them. This won’t have pleased the new Employment Minister, but even while "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/8850232/Liberal-Democrats-scrapping-unfair-dismissal-laws-would-be-madness.html">voicing his opposition in October, Lamb made clear that he did want it
to be easier for employers to dismiss ineffectual workers.
And today he’s making good on that, with a proposal
Telegraph that both retains protections for employees and gives employers the chance to avoid the time and expense of tribunals. His suggestion is that businesses wanting to sack
under-performing staff could write to them and offer a pay-off — in accordance with a government ‘guideline tariff’ — in return for avoiding a tribunal. As Lamb says:
‘The point about Beecroft, which makes it rather ineffective, is that it doesn’t give the employer a peace of mind because they are still left with the potential for
discrimination claims. It [sending a letter with an offer] is potentially a smart way forward because it directly addresses the issue for employers about how to deal with problems of poor
performance without taking away basic employee rights…
It doesn’t take away your fundamental rights: if you have an aggressive oppressive employer who is treating an employee badly, the employee can say “no I don’t accept that
and if you sack me I can take you to the tribunal”. It retains that basic protection against the aggressive unpleasant employer while easing the way for reasonable employers.’
The Lib Dems are attempting a tricky balancing act: thwarting Tory policies that they see as infringing rights, while not becoming the roadblock to growth. It is through reasonable
alternative proposals, like this one, that they can manage it.