Weaker Laws

The Government has issued a Call for Evidence on the issue that employers could have the right to dismiss employees without cause so long as they make a statutory payment.

That payment could be described as akin to a redundancy payment. The reason for this, the Government maintain, is to encourage employment. They hope it will allay the fears they feel smaller employers face when deciding to take on staff. Smaller employers will be defined as those with 10 or less employees.


The Government argue that since claims for Discrimination will not be covered there will still be sufficient protection for employees. Many, however, feel that without a claim for Unfair Dismissal those who can will likely bring a claim for Discrimination instead. Not only will this not then have the desired affect of reducing the fear of litigation for employers, it will not help the heavily worked Tribunals either.

The Call for Evidence is also seeking opinions on the possible introduction of an easier to use, more accessible, less onerous Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance. Australia currently has such a system in place and it is hoped that we can perhaps mimic its perceived success. The Government’s consultation will look at the Australian Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, which is a short document providing a basic set of guidelines to follow. It applies to a business with fewer than 15 employees on dismissal of an employee for reasons of conduct or capability. The ACAS rules we have in place at present apply in the same way to all employers regardless of size. There are risks to this approach, however, in terms of the Governments hopes for an improvement of the economy, employers might make an effort not to employ over the threshold so as not to be made liable for more stringent legislation. Employers may find it more difficult to attract the talent they require for their roles on offer since there is less perceived job security.

These are not the only changes the Government are considering making to the Regulation of smaller employers however. There are also suggestions that smaller employers should not have to adhere to the flexible working conditions for those with family commitments. Practically, it is generally more difficult for a smaller employer to accommodate the kinds of schemes a larger employer could offer in terms of time off to look after children or elderly parents for example. Though that might be the case, is it fair that the size of the business you work for dictates the rights you are afforded? Currently, however, this is still a very distant possibility.

The call for evidence ends on the 8 June 2012. Whilst there are some people in agreement of a need for a simpler code for smaller employers, they do not all necessarily agree with the no fault dismissal avenue believing that the Regulations can be simplified without such action.

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