The proposals, to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative Party conference, will see the qualification period increased from one year to two from next April. He recently said “We talk a lot about trade union rights – but what about the right of the unemployed person to be given a shot at a job and a career? “What about the rights of people currently sitting at home with nothing to do, desperate to get work, but the business can’t afford to employ them because they fear they are going to be taken to the tribunal?”
A total of 236,000 employment tribunal claims were made last year, with an average award of £8,900 for successful claimants, and the average cost of defending a claim at £4,000, according to Treasury officials. It is claimed the change in law will benefit business by around £6 million a year in reduced legal fees and payouts, while employees are expected to lose around £1 million in unfair dismissal awards. In the light of such a trifling sum, you can see that this strategy has nothing to do with the risk exposure of businesses to Employment Tribunals.
Thus the government don’t want people on benefit, but neither do they want those in low-paid employment to have any security until they have been employed for a full two years. This takes us back to those darker days before the 1997 election when New Labour came to power. People were routinely hired for 23 months and then given a month’s notice, only to rehire the following week and start the ball rolling again.
This government is returning us to the days when the low-paid were routinely and ruthlessly hired and fired by bosses seeking to frustrate any prospect of security of employment, year-on-year enhancements in employment conditions such as increased holiday periods and in some cases, the right to a pension.
That is Cameron’s idea of contributing to his Big Society?