The Beecroft Report, written for the UK government by the venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft (whose investments include wonga.com, offering 4,000% payday loans to the hard-up), was completed in October 2011 and kept under wraps until it was leaked to the Daily Telegraph newspaper in May 2012.
One of his recommendations is that “no fault dismissal” should be introduced into employment law. Beecroft strongly favours an “approach which allows an employer to dismiss anyone without giving a reason provided they make an enhanced leaving payment.” Beecroft goes on to say this approach would
“produce an instant improvement in performance in a significant part of the national workforce”.
In plain English, he reckons a significant part of the national workforce is slacking and could do with a bit more fear. To be fair, it was a British naval tradition every now and then execute an admiral to encourage the others, as happened to Admiral John Byng in 1757. Firing an occasional worker for no stated reason would surely encourage the others? And of course, those who have been sacked can always apply to wonga.com for a 4,000% loan (or perhaps not, as with no job and no payday would they actually qualify for a payday loan?).
Blathering politicians, sticking doggedly to their principal of ‘ignorance is bliss’, blissfully spout that excessive employment protection is disadvantaging British industry. The OECD, the club of high income countries, produces various economic measures and reports, including an index on employment protection. Far from having excessive protection, UK employment law provides the third weakest employment rights in the OECD’s survey of nations.
The 'specialisation index' on these graphs show that in the UK
- Specialised courts and lay judges mean the burden on the rest of the justice system is limited.
- There are simplified procedures for dismissal cases
- The burden of proof for a dismissal is on the employer, which is after all what the 'innocent until proven guilty' principal would expect.
Once again, the economic crisis is being used as cover for political changes. Chipping away at employment protection, pensions, wages, and other employee benefits.
Even in the Tory party there are signs of exasperation at business bosses whining. We already have one of the weakest employment protection regimes. We already have about the lowest corporation taxes in the G20. The Tory cabinet minister William Hague commented, referring to Britain's bosses:
"They should be getting on with the task of creating more of those jobs and more of those exports, rather than complaining about it."