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Did Tory chair @grantshapps admit to breaking the law?


5:38 pm - July 31st 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Conservative party chair Grant Shapps gave a speech at Policy Exchange today.

The speech itself is hilariously bad, but in the Q&A that followed, Shapps said:

And I’ll just give you one simple example: I started a printing company 23 years ago, it still runs to this day and we have always sat there and wondered how it is that when you know that somebody is not working out right for the company, like you know just not fitting into that role, you have to effectively end up coming up with less than… sort of disingenuous reasons why you need to change that role. I think you have to say ‘that role itself is now redundant’ and reengineer the way that that department operates.

Or you have to say, that person is so bad at their job that you must fire them and it’s disciplinary and it will go on, carry on when they try and get a job somewhere else. That means there are only two ways of dealing with wanting to bring a contract to an end. You will either have to pretend the role has gone or you have to fire the person.

In other words, he admits he had to conjure up ‘disingenuous reasons’ to fire an employee?

That is breaking the law isn’t it?

Ian Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Minister, has just sent out a statement saying:

The Government should be making it easier to hire people, not easier to fire people – but now the Tory Chairman is raising serious questions about his own record as an employer. He needs to come clean and clarify exactly what he meant by these comments.

If the only solution the Tories have for sorting out their economic mess is illegally firing workers it’s no wonder people think they’re out of touch.

Grant Shapps’s revelation is gob-smacking.

He should clarify whether he sacked the person for ‘disingenuous reasons’ or whether he lied to his audience today.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


‘The government should be making it easier to hire people, not easier to fire people.’ The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, if – as is likely – high employment protection tends to increase unemployment (as evidence of this, one need look no further than France). Of course, there may be better ways of increasing employment, but this is a typically stupid comment from a Labour minister.

Oh good. A Sunny legal post. These are always worth reading.

Wonder whether he will be getting a knock n the door by the police.

Sorry I forgot : MP’s have a license to lie, cheat and abuse.

4. Man on Clapham Omnibus

1. Joshua

I would be interestd in seeing your evidence for this.

I would suggest rather than commenting on issues like this, you stop being so naive. Companies up and down the country are suffering from useless employees who know they can push the limits because the law will protect them from being sacked.

Unfortunately the way employment law is currently structured can cause a very large headache, and wrongfully so, to an employer who fires an employee for poor performance. The resounding feature of this system is to employ less people. So ask yourself this, you criticise the government and businesses for not employing enough people, but it is the policies you push of ‘a job for life’ effectively that is reducing the employment rate.

I would also say that I write this as someone who represents employees in the employment tribunal, and despite fighting tooth and nail for my clients, I am not blind to the problems the current system is causing.

6. Man on Clapham Omnibus

5. Freeman

Perhaps you would like to comment on the percentage sucess
of employees in the tribunal system and perhaps also comment on the numbers that never make it that far. My understanding is that sucesses either way are very low.

dunno about employment rates, but in terms of GDP growth some countries with stronger worker protection and stronger unions do better than the UK.

8. James from Durham

Companies up and down the country are suffering from useless managers who know they can push the limits because the law will protect them from the need to actually manage their staff and businesses properly.

9. Robin Levett

@Freeman #5:

Unfortunately the way employment law is currently structured can cause a very large headache, and wrongfully so, to an employer who fires an employee for poor performance

With lay majority tribunals, informal procedures, no cost-shifting (except in egregious cases) and lack of Legal Aid for unfair dismissal claims, the IT system was set up to discourage the involvement of lawyers. There is an argument that the employers have got what they wished for…

10. Paul peter Smith

@8 & 9
That is pretty much my experience of this dynamic. Poor managers with little to no respect of employment law use bullying tactics to railroad staff through tribunals. For every malingerer that plays the system to their advantage there are half a dozen managers doing the same to many more people.

11. Robin Levett

@Freeman #5 (again):

This is an interesting take on the situation:

http://lawyerwatch.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/employment-tribunals-weighted-against-employers/

Does he think this about bankers and captains of industry?

Freeman:

“Companies up and down the country are suffering from useless employees who know they can push the limits because the law will protect them from being sacked.”

True, but equally employees up and down the country are also suffering from managers who ask them to do things which are impossible (or impossible without the right training) for very low wages, and then insist that this is because the employee is ‘useless’.

“it is the policies you push of ‘a job for life’ effectively that is reducing the employment rate.”

Really? By what mechanism?

Call me out of touch, but I can’t imagine lots of employers really going “Oh God, I really need a new procurement manager but I can’t hire anyone in case they’re useless and I can’t fire them so I just won’t procure anything any more.”

It seems highly implausible to me that this is really a big enough threat for employers to stop hiring entirely.

14. Liberal lawyer

What Grant Shapps has talked about is everyday reality in thousands of workplaces up and down the country.

Employers make up stories to fit within the law and avoid breaking it. They do this because they don’t have fair reasons for sacking the people they have taken a dislike to but they want to sack them anyway.

Maybe they’re jealous, psychopathic or just a bit bored. Whatever the real reason, it won’t be in the rule book.

The employee may not like the disingenuous reasons being sold to her but, if so, the employer will simply offer a “decent package” and her union rep will tell her to accept it. She might have a 100% chance of success in a tribunal but if her union tells her it’s a good offer, she’ll settle and sign a gagging clause. So nobody will know she was bullied like this and the employer can move on to his next victim.

That’s how the well intentioned employment protection legislation operates in practice in the UK. It protects the bosses: the serial sackers use it as a cloak. It’s time it was dismantled and that bad employers, and the feeble conniving unions, were exposed for what they are.

15. Paul peter Smith

@14
Spot on!

once again,we see the face of evil and corruption,in action,the POLITICAL –TERRORIST–COALITION–NOW–ADMIT–TO LYING–IN ORDER TO SACK WORKERS,BUT NOT ONLY THAT,BUT TO CARRY-ON–LYING–TO PREVENT–THAT INNOCENT EMPLOYEE–GETTING–FUTURE EMPLOYMENT,WHICH ILLUSTRATES,THE POINT ,-I -HAVE-BEEN–MAKING–FOR–A-VERY–LONG-TIME,THIS–COALITION–ARE–TRUE–TERRORISTS,–IN-EVERY–SENSE–OF–THE–WORD,,,TERROISM–IS–NOT–JUST.–THE–WICKED–EVIL–SCUM–THAT–PLANT–BOMBS-TO–BLOW–UP–INNOCENT–WOMEN–CHILDREN—AND–BABIES,ITS THE -CORRUPT–PROPAGANDA–POLITICAL–TERRORISTS-OF–THE–COALITION,–IN–HAND–WITH–THERE–MEDIA–TERRORIST–PROPAGANDA–LIE–PRINTING–TERRORIST–MEDIA–FRIENDS,WHO–USE–MEDIA–TERRORISM–TO–SURPRESS–THE–WILL–AND–FREE–OPINION–AND–FREE–SPEECH–OF–THE–BRITISH–PEOPLE,IN–THERE–PURSUIT–OF–MONEY–GREED–POWER.I ACCUSE THE DAILY-MAIL–AND–OTHER-NEWSPAPER-OUTLETS,OF TERRORIST–PROPAGANDA,AND–CHALLENGE–THEM–TO–A–LIVE–T.V. DEBATE–ANYTIME,WHERE I WILL CLEARLY SHOW–TO THE WHOLE—WIDE WORLD,THAT NEWSPAPERS.LIKE THE DAILY-MAIL,THE TORY SUN,NEWSPAPER,ARE-MEDIA–TERRORISTS,WORKING-FOR-AND-WITH–POLITICAL–TERRORIST–COALITION–TERRORISTS,AND-ARE-ACTIVELY–INVOLVED–IN–BRIBERY-TO POLICANS-,ETC,, FACE ME ,ON T.V. LIVE. LIKE THE MAN. IN THE FILM SAID——MAKE—MY—DAY..

17. Liberal lawyer

@16 There is really no need to shout. Your analysis is a bit simplistic. It’s the current legislation that makes both employers and employees into liars. Employers are often more used to lying and some of them do go off on sacking binges, which the law and the unions allow them to characterise as nothing more than a series of unfortunate events. We need a reasoned and calm debate about reforming the law which has got everybody into this mess. Grant Shapps is right about that. Give credit where credit is due.

Grant Shapps revelation ‘gob smaking’? Far from it. Setting aside his limited ability to deal with a poor employee, Shapps is a ‘Westminster Creature’. He has been screened by a party committee, and found to have sufficient Creatureness to be an asset in the fetid chamber-pot of the Commons. The attributes the Creatures displaid wantonly, every day, are precisely those we hope never to find in a chosen partner of our son or daughter.
Shapps is a bellwether for the whole 600+ of Westminster Creatures. Until we SPOIL PARTY GAMES and DISMANTLE WESTMINSTER: ethos and edifice in their entirety, this nation is going nowhere.

19. Liberal lawyer

@17 Dismantling Westminster is ambitious. Could we concentrate here on the employment protection issues raised by Grant Shapps? There may well be other creatures like him in the Commons but what matters to workers is that there are thousands and thousands of employers like him.

These people aren’t looking to sack “poor” employees: it’s sacking perfectly good ones that they get up to, disguising their bullying behaviour with a whole variety of “disinegenuous reasons”, precisely as Mr Shapps has described. The current state of the law and the pathetic unions allow them to get away with this.

We need to address this pitiful state of affairs head on, for the sake of the workers and in the interests of efficient and transparent management.

And we need to do it with cool heads. Throwing insults around is not going to help a single worker presented by her union rep with a settlement agreement, which contains lies about the “reasons” for her departure and her boss’s behaviour, as well as the inevitable gagging clause.

The Left’s response to Shapps has been so disappointing. Can’t we face up to reality and look at this properly?


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