So I pop off on holiday (lovely, thanks) for a few weeks and all sorts of employment law starts happening. Surely people could have waited until I got back?
I have a lot of catching up to do on the Beecroft report and the new Bill (whatever its called) and all the stuff that has been written about them. Luckily Michael Carty has diligently linked to everything you need to know about Beercroft over on XpertHR so it shouldn’t take me long to get up to speed.
But I can’t resist a preliminary rant. One aspect of the reporting of employment law that drives me up the wall is when the press (or Adrian Beecroft for that matter) fail to back up their assertions with actual examples of where the law is going wrong. A general reference to ‘red tape’ is not good enough. One person’s red tape is another person’s basic entitlement – see Mrs Markleham’s blog for some very good points about ‘red tape’ vocabulary here
Even the real life examples quoted by the press can be startlingly low on specifics. Take this report from the Telegraph (where would I be without Louisa Peacock?) headlined ‘How red tape is tying British business in knots’ . This quotes the MD of Z-Card who has been battling a tribunal case for two years now and feels that the claimant is playing the system. This is not the first time that the Telegraph has used this case as an example. In January 2011 they reported that the same MD was now facing her first ET claim and was refusing to settle it.
Now I’m not going to express any opinion about the case that Z-Card is engaged in. I can’t because I’ve been told next to nothing about it. I don’t know what the claimaint is alleging even in the broadest terms. I don’t know whether its a hopeless case or a really strong one. I don’t know whether the case would settle for a small sum or whether the stakes are high. I don’t know what has caused the delay (two years for a case is highly unusual) and whether the delay is the fault of the claimant, the employer or the system itself. There are two sides to every story – but in this case we aren’t even given one side.
Is it too much to ask for at least a basic outline of the nature of the case and the reason for the delay when the case is being put forwards as the only example of red tape tying a business up in knots? I don’t need technical detail but even anecdotal evidence should contain some factual information which backs up the point being made. here we are given none.
One guess I can make is that if the case has taken two years so far then it is not just an unfair dismissal claim. There may also be some discrimination alleged or perhaps whistleblowing. There may be no substance to these allegations but the point is that the case is unlikely to have been avoided if there was a no-fault dismissal law in place. That is an important point since the main thrust of the article seems to be that employers like Z-Card would benefit from such a law.
This is an important time for employment law and serious changes are in the offing. I don’t object to the press or anyone else advocating a particular position, but if they argue that a law is wrong, unfair or unduly burdensome then they should at least be able to explain exactly what aspect of the law they are objecting to.