Sacking people is easy to do

Just a quick one on the incompetent Mr Beecroft‘s attempt to take labour relations back to the 1830s… noting that in private sector workplaces in England & Wales 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. I’ve personally dismissed people in this way. 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, totally resolved within a week, 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 losing at a 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. Ditto Scotland, although I think most employment law is reserved to Westminster. But none of that matters for Beecroft’s purposes, because the procedures followed in these situations are not the ones laid down in statute law, and hence wouldn’t be changed by anything that Beecroft dictates.

[*] it’s been questioned whether ‘six months’ is ‘simple’. I’d say yes: if someone on probation turns out to be crap, you can fire them immediately and easily – so the ‘six months’ bit only occurs for someone who was decent and suddenly becomes crap, or who’s been left to get on with being crap for years with nobody doing anything about it. In the first case, it’s human decency to give them the chance to turn around (hence why performance improvement plans etc exist); in the second, the company can hardly blame the law for doing what it failed to do in the first place.

12 thoughts on “Sacking people is easy to do”

  1. But the bosses want to be able to fire people for unreasonable reasons! That's the whole point of this new drive, innit?

  2. So, if I read this right: the only possibly-relevant bit of data from the Telegraph/Beecroft story is that someone knows someone who happens to employ people in both Boston and London – and who prefers to hire in Boston for reasons of employment law / ease of dismissal.

    Even if dismissing an underperforming recent hire in London were difficult (which it obviously isn't), this is hardly relevant to a struggling and striving UK-based company which (a) can do a short-term hire, and (b) is not able to sack and to go to Boston to replace an underperforming existing employee.

    I certainly get the impression that a lot of companies trying to get rid of basically not-good-enough people fail at Tribunal because they don't follow processes, often get themselves into an indefensible position through being crap at managing underperformance. Then it becomes cheaper to settle instead of an expensive tribunal. The problem is not employment law, it's not tribunal procedures (painful though they must be): it's crap management. Crap British management. The government (all shades) never seems to want to fix that.

  3. There a simple procedure or protocol to follow when sacking people. The above mentioned are correct ways to do so, and not with informal ways like kicking them out of the office all of a sudden without even explaining what happened or what the employee could have done to make amends.

  4. "Ditto Scotland, although I think most employment law is reserved to Westminster."

    ALL employment law is reserved to Westminster workers in Scotland have the same ( lack of) rights as anyone else…

  5. Haven’t been a manager in a union shop, but I’ve been a steward in some, and the thing is unions don’t want to make it impossible to sack people for good cause, they want to make the position clear so that members know where they stand. There aren’t that many managers who try to fire you because it’s Thursday, but it’s better for everybody (inc. shareholders) if there are procedures in place to stop them doing it.

    I will say here, though not in every forum, that once in a blue moon you get somebody who tries to persuade a tribunal that although due process has been followed the motivation for their dismissal was racist/sexist. This is difficult because a. occasionally it’s true, and b. it ought to raise questions of discrimination law, NOT employment law. Hard cases, however, make bad law and this is, IMO, a price worth paying (it’s so rare that this whole paragraph should be regarded as a footnote.)

  6. The problem we want to solve is getting employers to take on more employees in a very difficult and uncertain economic climate.
    The solution – or one solution – may be to make it easier to fire employees for reasons related to the general economic climate or the performance of the employing firm, rather than for reasons related to their personal performance.
    I won't take on 50 new people to meet a speculative new order if – should the order prove a one-off and the work disappear – I'm left with those 50 employees or big redundancy payments, either of which might take the firm as a whole down.
    It would be nice if I could but it would be suicidal.

  7. Redundancy payments don't kick in until someone's been employed for two years or more. So you're completely within your rights to take on the 50 people, then lay them off on the basic notice period if the order goes.

    That doesn't even come under dismissal in the sense we're talking about: it's just redundancy, which solely requires you to demonstrate the work isn't there (in theory, if you make someone redundant and hire someone else to do the same role almost immediately afterwards, it could be taken as unfair dismissal – however, since unfair dismissal rights also don't exist in the first two years, that's pretty much tough titty to the people you lay off).

    If you're an employer, and are vaguely representative of the average UK small business, it's no bloody wonder UK small business is doing so badly.

  8. "If you're an employer, and are vaguely representative of the average UK small business, it's no bloody wonder UK small business is doing so badly. "

    Clearly what the UK needs is a change to the law to make it easier to fire your boss for incompetence.

  9. I just hate lazy workers and workers who does not do what they are supposed to. How do they even got the job in the first place? Well if you notice the signs of laziness from a worker it's better to just get rid of them but make sure you do it in a good and right way in order to avoid lawsuits of terminating them without reasonable reason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>