'The government has been right to resist employer whinging about employment tribunals. The growth in tribunal cases in recent years is a direct result of the growth of small businesses who have no proper procedures for resolving problems in the workplace and who don't understand that with the right to employ people goes the responsibility to treat them fairly.
'One concern however is that the new proposals should not disadvantage workers in small companies complaining of difficult issues such as sexual harassment. New procedures should not punish them at tribunal if they have not raised the matter directly with the harasser.
'We also have some concerns about the new proposal that 'minor' breaches of the procedures which employers need to follow when dismissing staff will no longer matter. This sends the wrong message to employers, some of whom will inevitably try to exploit this loophole. It's far better to have clear rules that everyone understands .
'In general this Bill represents a step forward for employment relations. At a time of such potentially great economic difficulty, it has been disappointing to see so many employer lobbyists putting so much effort into attacking the rights of their staff to receive decent treatment at work. It sometimes seems the employer message is 'if only we could sack people unfairly, then we would avoid recession.' The real scandal is not unfounded tribunal cases but the finding accepted by the government that employers break employment law three-quarters of a million times a year without it getting anywhere near a tribunal.'
A TUC briefing on The Compensation Culture Myth is available from the TUC website.
The TUC has been pressing the government for union learning reps to be put on statutory footing on similar lines to health and safety reps. We therefore very much welcome the fact that the legislation will:
Give union learning rights recognition in all recognised workplaces including small companies
Provide paid leave for recognised training for such a role
Provide paid leave for carrying out the role
Leave for employees to seek advise and guidance from their learning rep
Over 3,000 union learning reps have now been trained - many through projects funded through the DfES Union Learning Fund - and York Consulting has estimated that over 22,000 union learning reps could be trained over the next 10 years as a result of these new rights. For more info see here.
A series of TUC rights leaflets are available on our website and from the know your rights line 0870 600 4 882. Lines are open every day from 8am-10pm. Calls are charged at the national rate.