Press release: Sheila Gilmore slams Tories for plans to make it easier to sack employees

Edinburgh East MP and Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore today slammed Tory plans to make it easier for employers to sack their staff.

This follows a week of media attention on the Government-commissioned Beecroft report, which proposes allowing firms to fire their staff at will – something that will cause alarm for employees already facing great uncertainty in the current jobs market and economic climate.

The introduction of a ‘no fault dismissal’ procedure could result in people being fired almost instantaneously and for no valid reason. Adrian Beecroft, the report’s multi-millionaire venture capitalist author and Tory donor, admitted his proposals would mean that bosses could sack employees simply because they didn’t like them and that this was a “price worth paying”.

But these proposals actually risk damaging the economic recovery further as cutting employment rights could undermine the confidence of millions of employees who could subsequently limit their consumer spending for fear of losing their jobs.

Sheila Gilmore said:

The UK already has the most competitive employment regime in the world. The Tories are demonstrating just how out of touch they are; having tried to blame Britain’s businesses for the recession they are now blaming hard-working employees as well.

This Government’s failed plan has resulted in a double-dip recession made in Downing Street and 2.6 million people unemployed, but instead of admitting their mistakes they are making the incredulous claim that growth is being held back by the employment rights we all enjoy at work.

These are tough times and people in Edinburgh are already worried about losing their jobs without the Tories making it even easier for them to be made unemployed. We all want to feel secure in our jobs and the Tory plans would lead to even more anxiety for hard-working families who want to plan for their futures.

To end this recession made in Downing Street we need a proper plan for jobs and growth, not Beecroft’s fire-at-will manifesto.

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Mail Room: Unfair dismissal law

I receive lots of correspondence every day about national political issues. I read every email and letter that comes in and always try to provide a constructive response. From now on I’m going to put up my responses on the most popular and interesting issues on my website. I’ll also include any letters I get back from Government Ministers.

The first issue I’m going to cover is the Government’s decision to increase the length of time a person must wait before they can take their previous employer to a tribunal for unfair dismissal. This qualifying period has stood at 12 months but the Government has decided to increase it to two years.

Please find below my response to a constituent on this issue:

Thank you for your recent email regarding the potential changes to the qualifying period for unfair dismissal.

You note the Government’s Statutory Instrument (SI) on the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from 12 months to 2 years will be considered in the Delegated Legislation Committee tomorrow Tuesday 13th March. I share your concern that many people will lose their protection from unfair dismissal and that job insecurity will drastically rise if this measure passes.

According to the Office of National Statistics, this is a huge change that will affect around 12% of workers in the UK. I share your concerns that making it easier for employers to sack employees will do nothing to help boost the weak jobs market and it will also further stunt growth. If large numbers of people are living in constant fear of losing their job at short notice then consumers will spend even less. This change is also completely unnecessary as employers already have ample powers to make ‘fair’ dismissals. These changes only affect those dismissals that are deemed to be unfair.

The reality of course is that the Government is using the ‘recession’ as an excuse for reducing employee protection, something which they would have wanted to do anyway. After all they made exactly this change in the period of the last Tory Government.  I simply do not believe that the reason why small employers hesitate to expand their workforce is the fear of being taken to an industrial tribunal . Much more important is whether there is a market for their goods and services.

If you have any further comments relating to this change, please do not hesitate to contact me by email on sheila.gilmore.mp@parliament.uk.

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