Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A leaked government report, prepared by a venture capitalist/Conservative Party donor, argues that “unproductive workers” should lose their right to claim unfair dismissal. I think this could set a really dangerous precedent.
Clearly, there ARE cases of slackers (or whatever you might call them) but, as someone who employed people for nearly 30 years, I am well aware of the need to ensure that all employees are “on board” as far as the company/organisation is concerned. In my view, trying to ensure that you employ the “right” people in the first place and, crucially, communication are the key factors. In all my time as an employer, I think we only made one “mistake” – and it wasn’t anything to do with the member of staff being “unproductive”, it was the person’s negative attitude towards his work and his colleagues (I didn’t have to sack him, he left after 3 years, but he was definitely a “bad apple”!).
A number of general observations:
1. How do they propose to define an “unproductive worker”?
2. Good personnel management and “fairness” (working both ways) are crucial.
3. Setting a meaningful probationary period (perhaps up to 12 months?), with regular reviews, must make sense?
4. What about poor employers or line managers?
5. Might this just be another case of the government “leaking” a proposal so it can unveil a watered-down version in a few months’ time which doesn't create the same level of negative reaction?
Unfortunately, I can actually see a time when virtually all employees are on fixed-term contracts – with no guarantee of re-employment and people to apply for their own jobs at the end of the term (as/if appropriate).
I feel this could run and run…

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