Monday, January 10, 2011

Private sector job creation must not be at the expense of employee rights

So, David Cameron is going to sit down with major employers today, like the supermarkets and John Lewis, and try and persuade them to create more jobs. I have to say I'm slightly concerned that the jobs those companies are likely to offer are less skilled than the public sector ones which will be lost. He surely needs to talking to innovative environmental and technological companies who can help to provide the much needed infrastructure for a sustainable, greener future. Let's see a bit of ambition, for goodness' sake.

No doubt those big companies will use the chance of having a Prime Minister wanting something from them to have a bit of a moan about how they could provide an awful lot more jobs if they didn't have to give their employees so many rights.

These sorts of complaints are music to Conservative ears but sound all sorts of alarm bells to Liberal Democrats. It is right that employees are treated well and should have decent recourse if their employers fail to meet acceptable standards of behaviour, regardless of the economic circumstances.

The same BBC article also says that the Government is going to consult on employment rights with a view to doubling the amount of time, to two years, that an employee has to be employed before they can have recourse to an industrial tribunal. This doesn't apply if an employee is making a claim for unfair dismissal for something pregnancy related, but even so, it sends the wrong message to employers - telling them that they can treat employees as badly as they like for up to two years.

If you have given one year and eleven months of good service to an employer, how would you feel if they sacked you unfairly and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it? I tend to think that if an employer breaches employment law, then you shouldn't have to have any sort of qualifying period to seek redress. Why should the law only apply after a certain period of time?

Worse than that, however, is the idea that people seeking the intervention of an Employment Tribunal should have to a pay a fee. Bear in mind that these people have just lost their job. If they were going to access the courts, they would get some sort of Legal Aid or fees exempt status. There is no way that they should have to pay to seek justice against an employer.

A company has no more valuable resource than its people. If employers don't realise that, they have to be made to. I expect Liberal Democrat ministers to ensure that employees' rights are not eroded by this Government.


KelvinKid said...

I suspect that reducing access to industrial tribunals is only the first arrow to be fitted to the Tory bow. The Telegraph, the Mail and the employers organisations have been muttering about further limiting the right to strike.

The balance of employment law currently favours the employer, there is no need for any further tinkering.

Unknown said...

KK, I do believe you're agreeing with me! Wonders will never cease!


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