More Diluting Of Employment Rights

17 Jan 2013

GMB commented on the package of measures to stop workplace disputes ending up at Employment Tribunal set out today by the Employment Relations Minister.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for legal and corporate affairs, said “The measures announced by the Employment Relations Minister today on resolving workplace disputes, are more “slash and burn” of employee rights at work. Where is the evidence that any of this will create jobs or growth?”

Employees who have been unfairly dismissed should receive compensation that reflects their losses. This arbitrary 12 month cap on the compensatory award fails to do that, particularly in the current difficult environment. It will disadvantage vulnerable groups such as older workers who are more likely to have accrued higher pension rights and who find it more difficult to find new employment.

The use of “settlement agreements” – whereby an employer can offer an employee a sum of money and a settlement agreement in return for leaving their employment even though there is no pre-existing dispute – sends a clear signal to employers that it is acceptable to sack employees for any arbitrary reason.

Theoretically employees may be able to refuse an offer but they will know that if they remain in work they will be victimised and bullied. The lack of clarity over the meaning of “improper behaviour” proposed in the Code continues and will result in more confusion and litigation.

The Government has already slashed employee rights. The introduction of fees for employment tribunals later this year and extending the qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim to 2 years will make it much harder for employees to pursue claims in any event.

Cutting back on employee protection by watering down TUPE is a disgrace. TUPE protects employees who transfer from one employer to another after the acquisition of a business. Removing service provision changes – which often arise in public to private transfers - from the scope of TUPE will encourage unscrupulous employers to cut terms and conditions. The inclusion of service provision changes in TUPE by the previous Government had created certainty in an area which had previously been fraught with litigation over when TUPE applied. This litigation will return.”