When the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was presented earlier this week to Parliament for its second reading, Business Secretary Vince Cable gave a “categorical assurance” that the so-call “no fault dismissal” idea proposed by Adrian Beecroft will not be pursued.
“Our reforms are not about removing individual employment rights,” Dr Cable said. “We want to do more to encourage parties to reach an agreed solution at an earlier stage. We will therefore introduce an additional clause in Committee to ensure that the offer of a settlement cannot be used against an employer in an unfair dismissal case. That will facilitate the use of settlement agreements, making it easier and quicker for employers and employees to come to an agreed settlement where an employment relationship is not working.”
However, according to the CIPD, settlement agreements, which are effectively beefed-up versions of the current compromise agreements, are “essentially anti-Beecroft.”
Under the new Government proposal, employers will be allowed to offer staff cash to leave before a dispute arises without the fear that such offers could later be used as evidence in an unfair dismissal claim, as any offers would be inadmissible as evidence in an employment tribunal.
Mike Emmott, Employee Relations Adviser at the CIPD said: “They have the great merit that the employee voluntarily signs up to a compromise or settlement agreement, as opposed to the Beecroft recommendation for no-fault dismissal. They are not a ‘son of Beecroft’ idea.”
However, Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union said: “This is no-fault dismissal by another name. Once again we see this Government finding a way to undermine existing employment rights by introducing measures which allow employers to force employees out of the door if their face doesn’t fit.”