Beecroft update: Cameron kills Compensated No Fault Dismissal proposals

Sit down in front!David Cameron has rejected controversial proposals – set out in a leaked Government report  – to replace the right to claim unfair dismissal with new “Compensated No Fault Dismissals” in order to boost economic growth, the Financial Times reports.

However, it is reportedly still likely that “one or two” ideas from Beecroft’s report could yet come to fruition. Indeed, Conservative MP Chris Grayling suggests that “we need to accelerate the work on employment law.”

Cameron ‘draws a line’ under the Compensates No Fault Dismissals controversy

The Financial Times says that Cameron’s decision to reject the Compensated Unfair Dismissal proposals sees him “finally drawing a line under a corrosive debate at the heart of government about just how far the coalition should go to inject life into Britain’s stalled economy.” It says:

On Wednesday [9 November 2011] Mr Cameron tried to draw a line under the feuding. Asked by Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert whether a ‘fire at will’ employment policy would reassure 25m people fearing the threat of unemployment, Mr Cameron said: “I want to make it easier for companies to hire people.”

Hansard provides details of the relevant exchange between Cameron and Dr Julian Huppert (My thanks to Laurie Anstis for sharing the link to this page via Twitter)

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): The Prime Minister is rightly concerned about jobs and growth. Crucial to that is consumer confidence. Does he think that telling 25 million workers that they have no job security and can be fired at will tomorrow will boost or reduce consumer confidence?

The Prime Minister: Clearly, we have to make it easier for firms to hire people. That is why we have scrapped Labour’s jobs tax, taken 1 million of the lowest-paid people out of tax, established new rules so that someone can go to a tribunal only after working somewhere for two years, and introduced fees for claims in employment tribunals to stop vexatious claims. Added to that, we are investing in the Work programme and apprenticeships – all as a way of helping to give young people jobs.

Beecroft controversy: ‘A masterclass on how not to run a coalition government’

Venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft’s proposals to replace the right to claim unfair dismissal with Compensated No Fault Dismissals as a means to boost economic growth have been heatedly debated since they were first leaked a little over a fortnight ago:

Other Beecroft proposals could yet see light of day

But the Beecroft story is by no means over yet. The FT reports that Cameron’s rejection of the Compensated No Fault Dismissals proposals does not mean that the rest of the Beecroft report has been junked:

Allies say Mr Cameron has played down a controversial report by Adrian Beecroft – a Tory donor and venture capitalist hired by Mr Hilton to ginger up the debate on employment law; no more than “one or two” ideas in the unpublished report were likely to see the light of day.

We noted when this story first broke that the two leaked pages of Beecroft’s report that have emerged so far only include a summary of his proposals as regards unfair dismissal. It remains to be seen what the other key issue in “encouraging growth and employment” identified by Beecroft might be.

Further detail as to some of the other recommendations set out in Beecroft’s report are now slowly emerging. The Telegraph reports that Beecroft came up with 20 proposals in total. It says that Beecroft’s other recommendations include the following:

The Beecroft report contains 20 recommendations, many of which focus on lifting employment regulations on small employers. It also advocates reducing the impact of laws that will force small companies to provide pensions for workers. Other measures include scrapping the requirement to check the immigration status of workers.

Indeed, the Coalition Government is currently preoccupied with the challenge of how to reinvigorate growth in the run-up to Osborne’s autumn statement on 29 November 2011. It remains to be seen if Osborne will announce any measures relating to the reform of any aspects of UK employment law.

Grayling: ‘We need to accelerate the work on employment law’

Recent signals from the Conservative Party suggest that it still has its sights trained on employment law.

“We need to accelerate the work on employment law.” This is according to Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling, in a recent interview with the Daily Telegrah. Grayling used the interview to voice his support for Beecroft’s proposals, and to call for a “big bang approach on regulation.”

Grayling said he wants to see “a situation where the fault isn’t always with the employer, that the employer is always wrong … I think there needs to be much greater levels of responsibility of the individual.”

In Grayling’s view:

We’ve got a very poor record on unnecessary red tape; extra cost to business; people being asked to do things they don’t need to; over the top regulation, misinterpreted regulation, poor guidelines. And we’ve made a start … but I hope that what we are about to do now is take a real step forward and to accelerate … We need to accelerate the work on employment law as well.

UPDATE 1 (Thursday 10 November 2011):

Vince Cable has stated in a Radio 4 interview earlier today that we will have to wait for Osborne’s autumn statement – to be delivered on 29 November 2011 – for an “absolute commitment” as to whether or not the Coalition Government plans to push ahead with the Compensated No Fault Dismissal proposals. This is according to a transcript of Cable’s Radio 4 interview, put together by Anya Palmer. According to the transcript, Cable said:

[W]e’re not making an absolute commitment at this stage, I think we will have to wait for what the Chancellor says at the end of the month, but I have made it very clear that I don’t think that you encourage confidence in the workforce if they are massively insecure, but we have got to look at the technical proposals and judge them on their merits and look at evidence, because policy has got to be rational…

He also made mention of a proposal to reform the employment tribunal system, put together by his own department. According to the transcript, Cable said:

[M]y own department has come forward with a serious proposal for reforming tribunals, so that small businesses do not get sucked into very expensive time-consuming tribunals around the dismissal process, and we are also saying that people have to work for two years for an employer before they have access to the tribunal unfair dismissal system.  We are thinking of other ideas too for helping to resolve disputes in the workplace in a way that do not create excessive bureaucracy and difficulties for employers.  But I have also made it very clear that a general measure that creates large scale insecurity and worries about job security is not helpful.

Compensated No Fault Dismissals >> Read more on Beecroft’s proposals:

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