The government has been forced to defend the unfair dismissal law in the face of increasing calls for the legislation to be scrapped.
Almost half of the 450 HR professionals who responded to Personnel Today’s online barometer survey last week said the unfair dismissal law should be ditched.
Business leaders have lined up to criticise the law, which they feel damages the economy by making managers too scared to sack staff who are not up to scratch.
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said: “Employees have a right to fair treatment in the workplace, and it is correct that they are protected from dismissal for reasons such as being pregnant, or because they are a member of a trade union.”
The government insisted that the unfair dismissal law does not stop employers dismissing people because of their conduct or lack of ability to do their job. “It would not be acceptable to scrap a law that protects people’s employment rights,” added the spokeswoman.
Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director of HR policy, agreed that staff needed protection from unscrupulous employers. But she told Personnel Today: “Calls to scrap the unfair dismissal law indicate growing frustration with the rising number of weak and vexatious tribunal claims.”
Mark Ellis, a solicitor and CEO of business consultancy Ellis Whittam, won a cult following last month when he suggested on his blog the unfair dismissal law should be scrapped. He argued that if employers could sack people they didn’t like, productivity would soar.