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Give Responsible Employers more flexibility to recruit & more importantly, release staff

Comment 7th July 2010

1. Bring about changes in Employment Law to give responsible , well intentioned Employers greater ability to recruit and more importantly release Employees as workload fluctuates, without the punitive consequences of making a proceedural slip, having to jump through hoops in  long drawn out proceedures and/or paying out considerable sums in redundancy payments at a time one can ill afford it.

2. Make it more difficult for vexatious (former) Employees to take Employers straight to Tribunals , often with the help of  a ' no win , no fee ' legal representative.

Why does this matter?

1. I employed up to 30 Employees , all on permanant Contracts , many of whom had been with us for several years. We are a responsible, well meaning family run company which values its Employees. When the recent downturn hit us we were obliged , initially to seek agreement  to a 4 day week which we were unable to obtain and then to shed staff . We did not have the benefit of hindsight and the legal advice we were receiving a) was drawn out , recommending lots of consultation blah blah blah and b) a bit ' non specific ' and unable to give us guidance with a cast iron  outcome. I was desparate to avoid doing the wrong thing and end up in front of a tribunal.

Eventually , we had to make redundancies , with relatively long notice periods( more ' consultation ' and ' selection ' ) and paid out thousands – £30K plus at a time we could ill afford it. This to staff who had been very well paid while they worked for us and were able to leave at the drop of a hat in better times if they wished with little real recourse for the Employer if they did.

2. Two Employees took us to an ET with the help of ' free ' legal support. ( I do not believe there is free support for the Employer ) in separate , unconnected cases. We settled one on a ' commercial ' basis as we had made the tiniest proceedural slip and succesfully defended the other with the help of an expensive Barrister. The Employees case was flawed from the outset , vexatious , and ill conceived , promoted by the Free Representation Unit ' but our appeal for costs was refused  . A scandal.

In the final analysis I want to do right by my Employees but I must do the right thing for our business. I pay well but all the ' rights '  are with them . I am afraid to act for fear of penalty. This must change.

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