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Ministers consult on dismissal procedures

16 March 2012

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a consultation on proposals to examine the current employee dismissal process.

The Government is calling for views of employers, employees and other interested parties on whether current procedures are too onerous, too complex and whether or not there is a lack of understanding in their application.

A further proposal is for compensated no-fault dismissal for micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Under such a system, a business would be able to dismiss a worker from a micro-business, where no fault had been identified on the part of the employee, with the payment of a set amount of compensation.

Dr Cable said: “The UK already has one of the world’s most flexible, adaptable labour markets, making it one of our strengths and it stands up very well in international comparisons. However, we recognise that there is room for improvement which balances the needs of business while ensuring that the necessary employment protections are upheld."

The Government is already planning to introduce fees for taking a case to an industrial tribunal, and increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one to two years. But Dr Cable said that for micro-businesses in particular, without legal or HR teams, "the process to let a staff member go can be a daunting and complicated process. We want to give businesses the confidence to hire new staff and make sure when a dismissal needs to be made, they aren’t tied up in red tape.

"This is an effort to see how extensive the problem is and shed some light on the desire for a change to the rules.”

Among other things the Government wants to establish a clear picture of the current understanding of the dismissal process, including awareness and use of the Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance.

The Employer’s Charter, first published in January 2011, has also been updated to include pointers on sickness absence and recruitment. The charter aims to counter the misconception that employment protections are all one way, towards the employee. It will give greater clarity to managers on what they can already do to deal with issues in the workplace, on subjects such as performance, sick leave, maternity leave, requests for flexible working and redundancy.

Click here to access the call for evidence. The deadline for responses is 8 June 2012.

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