The 2011/11/04 at 06:40
Stéphanie Salti in London
The Beecroft report, yet to be officially published, is already hitting the headlines. Accessing a version of this proposal, the British paper, Daily Telegraph published the gist of this report commissioned by the government and drafted by Adrian Beecroft, a British venture capitalist and generous Conservative Party donor. According to a draft of the document dated 12 October, the report indicates that the current employment law rules make it hard to prove that someone deserves to be dismissed and require such a long and complex procedure that it is difficult to implement. “This makes it too easy for employees to claim they have been unfairly treated and to gain significant compensation,” states the report.
This updated document rapidly sparked off various reactions in industry. Echoing the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Chambers (BCC) publicised its support for these suggestions: “Too many companies, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses, tell us that dismissal rules and the fear of costly tribunal claims stop them from taking on staff,” points out John Longworth, Director General of the BCC, who goes on to comment that “a clear new dismissal route will help employers hire with confidence. We told ministers nearly two years ago that this was needed, and it’s encouraging to see such proposals receiving serious consideration at the highest levels of government.” This opinion is not shared by a certain number of personalities and institutions including Vince Cable, Business Secretary in David Cameron’s cabinet, who stresses that the Beecroft report fails to prove that such changes may improve the flexibility of the job market or bring any type of benefit to this universe. The same murmurs of disapproval are heard from the British Trades Union Congress and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a body in charge of human resources, that strongly reject the argument of a source of strengthening for the economy advocated by the report.
The British coalition government has never concealed its desire to reform employment regulations. Since April this year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has introduced measures to restrict the perimeter of the application of law on unfair dismissals: ever since, only employees working in a company for at least 12 months and considering that they have been unfairly dismissed can appeal such decisions. This new political development was motivated by the rise in legal proceedings in relation to unfair dismissals. In 2009-2010, there were almost 126,300 legal proceedings of this type, in other words a 17 % increase in the space of one year. On average, employers are legally obliged to pay out 1 billion pounds (1.14 billion euros) per year, a figure that does not take into account out-of-court settlements between employers and employees. The fact remains that in this domain, the Beecroft report seems to go a little further, too far in the opinion of some.