Adrian Beecroft highlights mindset of Tory right


2:03 pm - May 23rd 2012

by Dave Osler    


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Some of the £537,000 Adrian Beecroft has given to the Conservative Party in recent years came into his possession by lending out small sums of a few hundred pounds a time, at rates of interest as high as 4,000% a year.

It’s probably fair to assume that among those who see little choice but to subject themselves to usury will be people that have lost their jobs and do not have recourse to more reasonable sources of credit than wonga.com.

With mass employment so good for business, no wonder Beecroft would like to make it easier to sack people. Among the proposals contained in the review of employment law he has recently completed for the Coalition is so called ‘no fault dismissal’.

Don’t like that black bloke in the ad sales department? Worried that the girl in accounts just got married and may be planning to have kids? Health and safety rep keeps on demanding that you stick to health and safety rules?

Never mind decades-worth of laws designed to give women, trade unionists and ethnic minorities some sort of job security. If Beecroft gets his way, employers will be able to give them their P45s, no questions asked, provided only they stump up a minimal pay-off as well.

The scheme truly is bonkers, and to his credit, business secretary Vince Cable quickly said as much. Beecroft has responded furiously, throwing the worst insult of which he can conceive at Cable: the man must be ‘a socialist’, he concludes.

For the record, he isn’t. There is nothing in Cable’s political track record – including his stint as a Labour councillor – to indicate that he has ever advocated common ownership of the means of production. He is actually a generic social democratic, of the kind that could find a home in any British mainstream party.

As for the suggestion that he is anti-business, let us remember that prior to entering parliament, he held a relatively senior position at oil multinational Shell, not an outfit famed for extending positive discrimination towards Trots and treehuggers.

In short, Beecroft’s outburst tells us more about the thought processes of the rabid right than the ideological complexion of Cable.

Yet this is the sort of person the Coalition is looking to for policy inspiration these days, and what’s more, he seems to enjoy ample support on the Conservative backbenches. Nice.

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Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


“Health and safety rep getting a bit Bolshie?”

I think this is one huge flaw in the right’s vision of “flexible labour markets” which is underplayed.

By allowing employers to fire people without giving a reason – combined with removing large sections of the social safety net – you are giving employers a licence to require their more financially vulnerable employees to carry out illegal acts with near-total impunity, so long as they don’t explicitly order them to do so. Chances are that any punishments imposed by the courts would rain down on the unfortunate employees, while the benefits would accrue to the employer.

And once one company starts along that path – making themselves more profitable in the process – the laws of the market dictate their competitors must follow, and we get endemic corruption. Health and safety is a pretty good example; I appreciate right wingers think most H&S is a waste of time, but do they really want a situation where an H&S officer dare not raise concerns of widespread asbestos poisoning for fear of being fired, and losing the ability to house and feed their children?

Either the people calling for “fire at will” don’t understand this, or – more disturbingly – they do and they very much like the idea. I wonder which of these groups Adrian “wonga” Beecroft falls into.

The Telegraph’s lede, in which Beecroft justifies his halfwitted reforms by an anecdote about the time he fired his ‘incompetent’ HR director, got sued, and had to make a large payoff, is revealing.

If you follow the correct procedure, it’s easy to fire people for incompetence, at least in non-union private sector shops. Been there, done that (erm, from the firer side). There’s a well-established disciplinary process that, if followed, shields employers from legal action. It’s even published on the bloody internet. And if you’re firing an HR director – ie a highly paid person who knows a lot about employment law – then getting a lawyer to give what you’re doing the once-over is the action of anyone in their right mind.

So either Beecroft didn’t follow the law because he’s a moron, or he didn’t follow the law because there wasn’t anything demonstrably wrong with the HR director’s conduct. In either case, his criticism amounts to “I’m too stupid to live up to the basic legal and fairness obligations of a company director, so they should be removed”.

“In June 2010 the Office of Fair Trading published a ‘Review of high-cost credit’. In this report they concluded that changes could be made to the industry itself, but that “more radical approaches would be required if the Government or others wanted to tackle the wider social, economic and financial context in which high-cost credit markets exist.”

Easy to see why a Tory Government wouldn’t want to hurt a major donor, and equally clear to see why a substantial donation to a political party might go a long way to influence policy.

I thought Blair’s government was corrupt but it takes a Tory to really gild the lily.

Is he behind Wonga.com? He’s a bigger bastard than I had imagined. He should be jailed for those ads alone.

When I heard that he had called Cable a socialist this morning it became clear where he stood politically, a real righty fringe job. Cameron must have been thinking he could get away with anything when he gave this guy the job of reviewing employment law. It looks to me as though this will get increasingly embarassing for Cameron, another piece of bad judgement.

I don’t think he’s involved with Wonga but he got fingers in umpteen business with a bit of American Banking thrown in.
More importantly, he’s on the board of Healthcare at Home, which I believe is Britain’s major home healthcare provider. So, naturally he would be very interested in giving the Tories just about half a mill’.

We desperately need much more investigation into the links between donors and government policy.

Check out Andrew Lansley M.P.:

When in Opposition Andrew Lansley accepted a donation of £21,000 from John Nash, the chairman of private healthcare provider Care UK and founder of the private equity fund Sovereign Capital, which owns several other private healthcare companies, to help fund his private office, leading to allegations of a conflict of interest. Such companies stand to be the biggest beneficiaries of Conservative policies to increase the use of private health providers within the NHS.

Andrew Lansley’s wife, Sally Low, is the managing director of Low Associates. Sally Low denies that Low Associates is involved in lobbying, preferring to describe its activities as providing “strategic advice” to clients. Low Associates helps people prepare before they give evidence to committees of MPs, and Sally Low has given speeches on improving lobbying skills, in which she said that lobbyists should “establish positive relationships with decision-makers before you need their help”. Clients of Low Associates personnel in their previous careers have included the pharmaceutical companies SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

What was that ‘Call me Dave’? – A promise of more transparent government.
Anytime soon?

I think if you ask the average working person if companies should be able to get rid of slackers and persistent absentees, you might not get the answer you expect. Most people will have more than one story of covering for a colleague who simply can’t be bothered to do the work they should. They don’t like it, and would like these people not to be “working” with them.

Can anyone suggest an approach that is fair to those who work hard for a living?

7. Planeshift

” Most people will have more than one story of covering for a colleague who simply can’t be bothered to do the work they should. They don’t like it, and would like these people not to be “working” with them.”

You write as if there aren’t processes available to dismiss workers.

Perhaps the system is too complex and costly, (although I’d really like specific examples of actual costs within the system beyond vague sentiments of ‘legal costs’) but you don’t deal with this by removing the rights of everybody – it could be dealt with specific measures to prevent vexetious litigation.

Its also worth bearing in mind a great deal of these stories of useless people remaining in jobs is not down to the law, but down to poor HR management and and unwillingness to deal with issues in the workplace when they initially come up. Crap management is really not something the government can do much about it.

@JC Perhaps managers ought to be less lazy. There’s more than ample legislation to remove ‘slackers and persistent absentees’ if desired. I know my own manager can’t be arsed following the dismissal procedures in the staff handbook he had a hand in writing!

I find it insulting that you think employment laws were specifically “designed to give women, trade unionists and ethnic minorities some sort of job security. ”

They were designed for workers, pure and simple. Why does everything have to refer to some form of minority, that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

As everyone here is a liberal, I’ll post a link to the Telegraph so you don’t say I’m quoting a leftie rag like the Mirror or Daily Mail.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9281161/Controversial-Beecroft-report-on-employment-reform-doctored-by-No-10.html

The first paragraph

‘A document leaked to The Daily Telegraph shows that three proposals in the controversial Beecroft report were removed after being submitted to No10 before it was sent to the Business Department. They called for the Government to delay plans to introduce flexible working for parents, to abandon proposals to allow all workers to request flexible working, and to remove regulations surrounding the employment of children.’

There was much more to the Beecroft report than putting fear into the working classes that they could lose their jobs at any time, something I think all liberals would agree is a laudable aim.

He also wanted to liberalise child labour laws, which currently hold British businesses back from competing with countries like India, which makes excellent use of child labour to be competitive on a global scale, and Mauritania, with it’s liberal laws on indentured labour.

In the global market place, can we really afford to be sending children to secondary school? Surely the market should decide the best use for them.

There’s a lot in the Beecroft report that liberals agree with, as Beecroft is a libertarian liberal and it was commissioned by Steve Hilton, someone else in favour of liberalising Britains laws and removing the dead hand of the state that holds British business back.

If we keep forcing global capital to look abroad for the skills required, like small hands to stitch the clothing we buy on our high street, they will continue to employ or own children abroad rather than here.

While Vince Cable may think it is tactically the wrong time, a lot of people in his party will agree with Beecroft, and should urge Cameron to press forward as they may never get another chance to give business this significant a boost.

11. the a&e charge nurse

[5] I think that is a good question – my own experience, for what its worth, tends to accord with your implied assumption that a % of colleagues in organisations are something of a liability (so are perennially carried by more industrious colleagues).

A process exists to challenge the deadwood but it is so soulless and time consuming, not to mention weighted in the favour of the under performer, that co-workers (many who are already working close to maximum capacity) simply do not have the time or energy to undertake the endless performance monitoring and report writing in order to demonstrate (12 or 18 months down the line) that somebody is simply not up to the job.
Not only that, once this sort of process is instigated there may well be counter claims of bullying, or racism – I mean who really needs it, life is just too short.

At least this my experience in the NHS – those who work in stressful environments must learn a few self preservation techniques or run the risk of going under themselves.

Maybe one of the compromises we have to accept to increase job security is that the piss takers have become pretty hard to remove – depending on what day of the week it is I have a different view on whether or not this is a good or bad thing.

Having said all of that whatever the answer is to such a conundrum I do not think exploitative money lenders are the best people to ask.

12. Planeshift

“At least this my experience in the NHS”

It is a lot different in the public sector than the private sector though – there is definately a need for changes in the public sector – not least at management level – which as an NHS worker you probably have many tales to tell about. But these changes don’t need a blanket abolition of rights accross the board.

I suspect these big business types act so aggressively towards ordinary people because deep down they know they don’t deserve their wealth. They know they’re exploiters.

Anyway, before too long we genuine socialists will have brought their companies under public ownership.

@ Ben

He also wanted to liberalise child labour laws, which currently hold British businesses back from competing with countries like India, which makes excellent use of child labour to be competitive on a global scale, and Mauritania, with it’s liberal laws on indentured labour.

In the global market place, can we really afford to be sending children to secondary school? Surely the market should decide the best use for them.

Couldn’t agree more. This country’s been on a slippery slope since we stopped sending the little bastards down chimneys.

(puts on top hat, false beard and grabs cane).

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

15. Planeshift

“little bastards down chimneys”

Up chimneys.

Re Wonga: I could well be mistaken but I have a feeling that it’s still in money raising mode, it’s not yet in money paying out mode.

To shareholders that is. So I’d sorta doubt that Beecroft has made any money out of it yet.

Trivial point I know but….

17. Planeshift

“To shareholders that is”

They could always take out a short term loan to pay a dividend.

The frothing at the mouth right wing will not be happy until it returns us to the 19th century. It is the same on both sides of the Atlantic. And any one who disagrees is branded as a socialist, or communist.

What is interesting about these people is the more you give them the greedier they get. Over the last 30 year taxes have come down for the wealthy, deregulation, reducing the power of the trade unions has continued. All this has made the gap between rich and poor the greatest for 100 years. Yet this is not enough, the greed of these people knows no bounds.

But there is something more sinister here too. It is not just about the money. There is a nasty psychotic element to these people. They are power mad, and love seeing those that they feel are not worthy suffering. They don’t just see themselves as successful business people. They want to exert full power over the masses. Some are psychotic, some are just fucking arrogant, and some really do believe they are superior beings. Individually these people are little tyrants. Trouble is they don’t feel they have enough power to inflict their beliefs on the plebs. So now they are just buying govts. After all they have convinced themselves that there is nothing they can’t own.

19. Trooper Thompson

I love the way you lefties think Cable being called a socialist is a massive insult.

@19

This is a liberal blog you idiot, not a socialist one. There are no left wingers here. There are right wingers, far right wingers, right wing centrists and a smattering of centrists. No one here is going to advocate things like society being run for the benefit of people in it, or any sort of socialism.

Everyone here believes in capitalism and the markets, they just disagree on the best way to save capitalism from the cyclical crises that are part of it.

You’re hung up on what liberal has come to mean in America, where it means someone who is PC. The Republican party would be defined as a liberal or corporatist liberal party here, because of their belief in large corporations as the driving force in society and their belief in creating markets wherever possible.

If there were a socialist political party with large support in the UK almost everyone on this blog would be calling for it to be suppressed. Sunny, who runs it, has previously backed all three main parties in this country, and at the moment is supporting Labour, but that may change in the future.

Because all three main parties have a common platform of liberalism, this isn’t too unusual and no one criticises him for it.

21. Arthur Seaton

@21 Hmm, didn’t think I’d see the day when someone criticising Trooper Thompson would end up making even more wildly idiotic and innacurate comments than him, but you’ve managed it, well done.

@21 – Quite.

@20

You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that political terms are absolute – they ain’t. “Liberal” in the US does not mean “PC” (which is itself a much-misused term), it is simply used to refer to any position that the Right doesn’t like (based on Newt Gingrich’s plan).

Being left-wing does not necessarily mean opposition to capitalism in general these days, and hasn’t for at least half a century. Bill Maher summed it up quite succinctly when he said that since the early ’80s, the political centre has moved to the right, and [consequently] the right has “moved… into a mental hospital”. Indeed, these days even moderate right-wing opinion seems so slavishly devoted to the theories espoused by Ayn Rand (despite the inherent human suffering visited on those who fall through the cracks) that it makes Stalin’s mangling of Marx to enable his own brand of totalitarianism look fairly tame by comparison.

23. So Much For Subtlety

7. Planeshift

You write as if there aren’t processes available to dismiss workers.

The fact that you can litigate for a decade if you want to sack someone is not much comfort I suspect to a lot of people.

Perhaps the system is too complex and costly, (although I’d really like specific examples of actual costs within the system beyond vague sentiments of ‘legal costs’) but you don’t deal with this by removing the rights of everybody – it could be dealt with specific measures to prevent vexetious litigation.

Actually you do deal with it that way. You may not want people to but they can and should. What is more it has no effects on the rights of everybody. It gives a legal claim to a small number of people and takes away the rights of everyone else.

But the main point is what specific measures to prevent vexatious litigation precisely? We have a system that mainly rewards lawyers – and I expect that is the whole point – and you want to change by making it even more complex and hence more expensive? You want a complicated and expensive system to always begin with a motion to dismiss the procedure as vexatious? That is, even more complicated and expensive. Why not just let people sack who they want? The social costs will be smaller than litigating every second dismissal.

Its also worth bearing in mind a great deal of these stories of useless people remaining in jobs is not down to the law, but down to poor HR management and and unwillingness to deal with issues in the workplace when they initially come up. Crap management is really not something the government can do much about it.

Then the government should not try. Abolish the law.

Besides, why is it worth bearing in mind? You mean you want this to be true. You’re not a lawyer are you by any chance? What is more it means that every company has to maintain a large, expensive and mostly useless HR department. Fine for big companies but crippling for smaller ones. Which is probably the other point. Big businesses don’t mind crippling the smaller competition.

All in all, you simply raise the cost of firing someone. Which means they have to really screw up before they get fired. Why? What is the point? How is it better for Britain to protect the mild screw ups? On top of which the legal system is irrational and hence it is a gamble. You may get lucky. But the chances are you won’t. Therefore your useless employee has a good chance of winning no matter what he has done. Then you will be really stuck with him. This is not trivial either. I know of a company that fired a fork lift driver for using drugs and stealing. He won on appeal. So now they have to employ him, while he continues to steal and use drugs – posing a H&S risk to everyone else they cannot do anything about – and he is more or less untouchable as they can’t “harass” him.

The costs of all this get pushed on to the consumer and so British people become poorer. Just get rid of it all. The isolated “abuse” is trivial by comparison.

SMFS: you’re just wrong here, whilst Planeshift at 7 is correct. Unequivocally.

In private sector workplaces without union recognition agreements, all of the following are the case.

There are straightforward processes available to sack lazy/incompetent workers which, if you follow them correctly, take less than six months from when you first notice the problem with their work and don’t lead to complicated legal action. Anyone denying that is either lying or has no idea what they are talking about.

There are straightforward process available to sack people for gross misconduct which, if you follow them correctly, can be actioned on the same day and don’t lead to complicated legal action. I’ve personally dismissed someone in this way. Anyone denying that is either lying or has no idea what they are talking about.

If someone you have sacked having followed the correct procedures then takes you to tribunal, you can call a pre-hearing review where the judge determines there is little or no case to answer. Should they wish to pursue the case, they’ll have to pay a hefty deposit and will ultimately be liable to pay your costs when you lose.Anyone denying that is either lying or has no idea what they are talking about.

Where cases make it as far as an actual tribunal, it is inevitably for one of two reasons:
1) the person was fired without reasonable cause (whether for race/whistleblowing/management petulance/whatever)
2) the person was fired with reasonable cause, but the company failed to follow the simple procedures that you need to follow in order to fire somebody with reasonable cause.
Anyone denying that is either lying or has no idea what they are talking about.

In unionised and/or public sector workplaces, the procedures may be more complicated; I’ve got no idea how they work, having never worked as a manager there. But that doesn’t matter for the purposes being discussed here, because the procedures laid down there are not the ones laid down in statute law, and hence wouldn’t be changed by anything that Beecroft dictates.

I know of a company that fired a fork lift driver for using drugs and stealing. He won on appeal. So now they have to employ him, while he continues to steal and use drugs – posing a H&S risk to everyone else they cannot do anything about – and he is more or less untouchable as they can’t “harass” him.

This again highlights the fact that you know absolutely fuck all about employment law.

If someone in an H&S critical role is drunk or high at work, then the procedure is:
1) you collate reasonable evidence (eyewitness evidence is sufficient) that they’re drunk or high;
2) you send them home to sober up and call them in for a disciplinary hearing;
3) you let them put their case at the disciplinary hearing;
4) you sack them for gross misconduct, whilst following whatever paperwork your internal procedures say you will.
– ie once you’ve got evidence against them, they’re not on site ever again and they’re out of the company in a week.

So:
1) in order to get anywhere near the situation you’ve alleged, the company would need to have failed to follow that simple, easy-to-follow process.
2) because endangering co-workers is considered a particularly serious form of misconduct, the tribunal would generally overlook minor breaches of procedure. So the company must have *badly* failed to follow that process.
3) because endangering co-workers is considered a particularly serious form of misconduct, and because every tribunal considers whether relations at the workplace have been too severely damaged to continue, the tribunal would never order a company to reinstate someone who’d been caught operating machinery when high.

This gives us two scenarios:
1) you or your source is lying;
2) the company failed to convince the tribunal there was *any evidence at all* that the man was high or stealing. Which is the same, from an external point of view, as if they’d made the accusations up.

In other words, if the man is a danger to his co-workers, the company’s own reckless incompetence is to blame for that, not the employment law system.

I’m reminded of the Van Halen/brown M&Ms story here. The “must provide M&Ms with all the brown ones removed” clause in their rider wasn’t a rockstar excess, it was a good way of determining whether the venue actually read and paid attention to their complicated technical spec that their concerts involved, featuring heavy, high-voltage equipment that could easily screw up and kill people if operated incorrectly. If the venue failed to provide brown M&Ms, this was an indication to the tour manager that it was likely run by incompetent shysters who hadn’t read the contract, and hence that serious things could well go wrong.

Similarly, if a company whose *main point* is to operate heavy machinery that requires complicated H&S procedures in order to not kill people screws up an incredibly simple open-and-shut disciplinary case so badly, then their cavalier disregard for following the rules strongly suggests that they shouldn’t be in business at all.

26. Trooper Thompson

Years ago, they changed the law to allow ‘no fault divorces’. Prior to then, it was necessary for one person to have done something wrong, so play the role of guilty party. The law was changed to take into account that sometimes marriages don’t work out, and now it is not necessary to show that someone was a bad person.

It seems we have the same old thing with jobs. If an employer wants to get rid of someone they have to magnify everything bad about that person. Wouldn’t it be better to change it so that you could just say, like with divorce, it’s not working out? the person leaving the job then doesn’t have to go away carrying the burden of being fired for poor work.

@20,

I think you need to read the description in the top righthand corner of this website:

“Liberal Conspiracy is the UK’s most popular left-of-centre politics blog. Our aim is to re-vitalise the liberal-left through discussion and action”.

27. Planeshift

@26 – you already can – if somebody’s job is no longer needed you can make them redundant, and you don’t get a redundancy payment until you have worked there for 2 years. (My brother worked for a company that went into administration – he worked there for 22 months so didn’t get any redundancy. 2 months later and the payment would have been a nice holiday).

You also have probationary periods for jobs. Frankly if a company employs the wrong person for a job, and doesn’t find out for the first year or so then they have bigger problems than regulation.

The problem we essentially have is that management in the UK has used successive governments to attack regulation and workers rights rather than deal with their own incompetence. Its one reason why the british car industry has only been saved through foreign ownership – even Kelvin Mackenzie recognised that british management was the issue not the workers here.

OP: “The scheme truly is bonkers”

What you are really saying is that you find it “unimaginable” in your socialist bubble.

But why? More of a hire-and-fire culture (these things admit of degree! Surely it’s a question of getting the balance right!) would undoubtedly help UK business and so growth.

Big corporates howl with anguish a regulation but secretly they welcome such regulation because they can pass the costs on to consumers and the regulation discourages new and more competitive entrants to the market. SME’s struggle with every extra regulation.

We need to make it easier to hire-and-fire staff — particularly in SMEs and the public sector! I speak as someone who has run my own business, worked in the public sector (10 years) and worked in the voluntary sector.

Also, all the evidence I am aware of suggests that Keynesian expansion will work most effectively in a lightly regulated labour market – like the USA. So if you want growth, reduced labour market regulation + increased infrastructural spending might well be the way to go…

Luis Enrique, where are you?

What the Right fail to grasp is that bonkers hire and fire plans – like the rest of the bonkers ideas in the so-called “supply-side” toolbox – simply depresses demand.

What’s the first thing workers will do when they learn their employment rights are being shredded?

They’ll save like mad.

Tipping us from this Tory led recession, into a Tory inspired Depression.

31. Trooper Thompson

@30,

“What’s the first thing workers will do when they learn their employment rights are being shredded?

They’ll save like mad. ”

There’s nothing wrong with increasing saving, but I don’t know what economy you’re working in. Right now, whatever ’employment rights’ there may be, many jobs are precarious, not because the employer wants to sack people but doesn’t know how, but because companies are struggling. If a company goes to the wall, it doesn’t make any difference what ’employment rights’ a worker has.

@30

I sometimes wonder if that is actually the goal of these wealthy elites and their hangers on.

Who would benefit most out of a full blown depression?

Why the wealthy elite, of course – they arnt affected by it at all, and their costs can be reduced even further….

TT: the point about no-fault divorces is that *they require the consent of both parties*. Leaving an employer with the consent of both parties is not currently, nor has ever been, an obstacle in any non-totalitarian society.

TONE: the UK *ALREADY HAS* a lightly regulated labour market. That’s the effing point, and I’m willing to bet it’s also what Luis would say. The way labour is regulated in Spain almost certainly does genuinely deter job creation; in the UK it can only ever be a red herring.

34. Planeshift

“TONE: the UK *ALREADY HAS* a lightly regulated labour market. That’s the effing point, and I’m willing to bet it’s also what Luis would say”

Its what the OECD also said in a report looking at labour market regulation. Worstall himself cited it, though the overall tone of it questions the laissez faire approach.

@TrooperThompson

There’s nothing wrong with increasing saving, but I don’t know what economy you’re working in. Right now, whatever ‘employment rights’ there may be, many jobs are precarious, not because the employer wants to sack people but doesn’t know how, but because companies are struggling. If a company goes to the wall, it doesn’t make any difference what ‘employment rights’ a worker has.

The economy I work in is mired in a double dip recession caused by the sheer ineptitude of this government as well as the quack supply-side economics which inspired the Austerity strategy.

If you think extra saving is a good thing right now, then I can only conclude that, like Cameron and his appeal for more saving at the Tory Party conference, you know nothing of economics.

36. Tom (iow)

Another problem with SMFS’s story of ‘drugs and theft’ is that an employment tribunal is not an ‘appeal’, and they will not under any normal circumstances order the re-instatement of employees. The kind of very unusual situation where they might exceptionally order this would be where an allegation has been entirely fabricated for discriminatory reasons, say. In pretty much any other case the remedy would be damages. The fact that SMFS claims the person is still in the job raises some awkward questions about his story. At least he didn’t prefix it “and I am not making this up…”

Then, we have another problem. The test for whether a dismissal for misconduct is fair is found in British Home Stores v Burchell – it is only necessary for the employer:
* to conduct a reasonable investigation, and
* to believe the employee is genuinely guilty following that investigation.

Actual guilty cannot even be considered if these tests are met.

If an employee accused of theft was found to be unfairly dismissed there are really only two possibilities: that the charge was fabricated by the employer, or that the investigation carried out was seriously flawed as happened in William Hill v Steele.

37. Planeshift

“is that an employment tribunal is not an ‘appeal’, and they will not under any normal circumstances order the re-instatement of employees.”

I thought this was the case, and demonstrates that SMFS has been caught out lying.

38. Robin Levett

@Tom (iow) & Planeshift #36/37:

To be fair to SMFS, it is possible that the appeal to which he refers was an internal appeal; but this makes the anecdote almost irrelevant to the question of unfair dismissal.

It also means, though, that the members of the appeal panel took the view that there wasn’t enough evidence reasonably to find that the employee was guilty of the misconduct alleged.

39. So Much For Subtlety

36. Tom (iow)

Another problem with SMFS’s story of ‘drugs and theft’ is that an employment tribunal is not an ‘appeal’, and they will not under any normal circumstances order the re-instatement of employees.

You’re quibbling over words? Oh, well done. Normal circumstances? You mean that they can and do order re-instatement of employees? Doing well, son.

You can google cases if you like and it is not hard to find half a dozen. My favourite is actually American. They fired a coal miner for marijuana use. The appeals went all the way to the Supreme Court. Which upheld the reinstatement. Eastern Associated Coal Corporation v. United Mine Workers of American, District 17, 531 U.S. 57, 121S.Ct. 462, 148 L.Ed.2d 354 (2000).

The kind of very unusual situation where they might exceptionally order this would be where an allegation has been entirely fabricated for discriminatory reasons, say. In pretty much any other case the remedy would be damages.

So they have the power to do what I said and yet somehow you’re still objecting? Based on what?

Then, we have another problem. The test for whether a dismissal for misconduct is fair is found in British Home Stores v Burchell – it is only necessary for the employer:
* to conduct a reasonable investigation, and
* to believe the employee is genuinely guilty following that investigation.

Notice what a joy this is for the employer. They have to conduct not what they think is a reasonable investigation, but what some bureaucrats with no experience of the real world think is a reasonable investigation. They then have to convince them that they thought the person involved was actually guilty. There is another few steps in there as well because they also have to show that the misconduct was serious. And then they have to consider the type of work the employee was doing, how long they have worked there and a few other factors that will be considered. In other words there is almost no certainty here. They do not know if they will be second guessed or not. They will have to retain a lawyer and potentially pay costs. All of which adds up to a massive deterrent.

And for what? What social benefit is gained?

@39 WTF has US employment law got to do with the UK? Any examples from the US don’t mean shit in this context.

@19

You miss (quite possibly deliberately) the fact that Cable isn’t a socialist and he never has been. Try again.

42. James from Durham

Looks as though SMFS haseally shot himself in the bum this time. Clearly his “story” is bogus. A man down the pub told me…. He flounders into quoting American examples. The thing is this throws all his other comments into question. Is he making it all up?

43. Robin Levett

@SMFS #39:

They have to conduct not what they think is a reasonable investigation, but what some bureaucrats with no experience of the real world think is a reasonable investigation.

“Bureaucrats with no experience of the real world”? Who might that be? Would that be the Employment Judge, legally qualified, who sits part-time? The employer representative? The employee representative?

44. Tom (iow)

So they have the power to do what I said and yet somehow you’re still objecting? Based on what?

They do not. They only have the power if the employee was unfairly dismissed, and only then in very exceptional circumstances. An employee dismissed for theft who is guilty or appears to be guilty has no right to claim any remedy at all.

So are you confirming your claim is that a tribunal ordered re-instatement in the case you are referring to?

In the absence of a mature opposition in the Labour Party at present, I feel that it’s only fit and proper that Vince Cable voices a mature opposition from within the government ranks … in fact I think it’s a very positive and refreshing change to the politics of old.

I personally agree with a grand shake of employment regulation, but that doesn’t mean that the new legislation shouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. Have we got so used to the old Labour large majority way of knocking out legislation on the back of a cigarette packet ? IMHO this little outburst from Dr Cable is exactly what this government needs to keep it on the straight and narrow. They have hard choices to make, but they also need a conscience.

46. Chaise Guevara

@ 43 Robin

““Bureaucrats with no experience of the real world”? Who might that be?”

Ooh, I know this one! They’re bogeymen created by people who want to make an ad hom argument and can’t even find a real person to attach it to.

47. Grayling

not that exaggerated ? https://twitter.com/#!/AdeBeecroft

48. Grayling

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