George Osborne and the vexatious Tories are at it again.
Yesterday they wanted to do away with the human rights act, and today they want to diminish employee rights to redress after an unfair dismissal.
"We are ending the one way bet against small businesses," Mr Osborne told the Conservative conference in Manchester, without explaining what he meant, but securing a round of applause. If employment disputes are a one way bet against business, I’m a chocolate fudge cake.
In an employment dispute the legal costs must be met by each party, the employer and the employee. Most employers do and should insure themselves against this risk. However, Mr Osborne wants to add a further burden to the employee, charging them up to £300 which may be recovered, but only if they win the case. If Mr Osborne has his way, the employer would be advantaged over the employee, because the employer would not have to take this risk. All the employer would have to pay is what a tribunal says they should pay to compensate an employee, but only if they have done wrong. If they do no wrong, they pay nothing.
He also intends to extend the minimum term of employment from one to two years. He wants to return to the old style hire and fire culture.
This is what the CBI business lobby want, so George is going to let them have it.
"We respect the right of those who spent their whole lives building up a business, not to see that achievement destroyed by a vexatious appeal to an employment tribunal. So we are now going to make it much less risky for businesses to hire people," Mr Osborne said, apparently unconcerned about employees who spend their whole lives developing careers.
So, in the interest of protecting employers from vexatious employees, Mr Osborne is plotting to disadvantage non-vexatious employees against vexatious employers.
You wont get Mr. Osborne to acknowledge that there are any vexatious employers that need to be regulated. This kind of one-sided bigotry is all to common among the Tory faithful, and beyond, but that is not to say there is no problem to fix.
Employment disputes are settled in secret out-of-court settlements, and the Tribunal process is designed to accommodate this unsatisfactory process, and in fact enable employers to delay settlement for up to three years at no additional cost to them. It is in the employers interest to delay settlement as long as possible and their lawyers encourage them to do so, kerchang, kerchang. It is also in the employees interest to wait until due process will force the employers hand.
This is very unsatisfactory and extremely costly to the public purse. The Treasury has said that more than 80% of applications made to an employment tribunal did not result in a full hearing. Last year there were 236,000 employment tribunal claims, of which only some were unfair dismissal claims, with an average award for successful complainants of £8,900.
There is only one remedy and cure for this waste of the public purse, and that is to oblige both parties to commit to a full hearing from the outset. If both parties understand that their issues will enter the public domain, vexatious employees and vexatious employers will both disappear.
Vexatious employers do not want to admit to their abuses of employment law and unfortunately they understand very well that an employee will accept a “generous” payoff, but they also understand that they will not have to make that payoff until the very last moment, disadvantaging the aggrieved employee.
The guilty crave secrecy. Remove that confidentially and you remove the problem and lawyers will then need to find some other lucrative paper chase.
Unfortunately this will not take the bigot out of the vexatious Mr. Osborne.
Today, it is day three of the Tory conference, so it’s Theresa May’s day to announce the restoration of capital punishment, or some other nonsense.