‘Scrooge’ solicitor’s Christmas sack suggestion provokes fury

A legal expert has provoked fury by advising employers to make redundancies on Christmas Eve.

Mark Bestley, partner at Cheshire law firm SAS Daniels Solicitors, said 24 December was a day for swinging the axe rather than filling stockings.

“I would actually recommend that people who may be a nuisance or disruptive to a business are actually told they’ve lost their job as close to Christmas as possible,” he said.

With hundreds of thousands of jobs expected to go in the next year, Bestley said employers should make redundancies directly before the Christmas break so redundant staff were removed immediately, and those who remained faced a fresh start in January.

“This keeps staff who may otherwise be a bad influence away from colleagues, clients and machinery,” he said.

It was also good for cashflow, according to Bestley, as telling someone to clear their desk at any other time of year would require a lump-sum payment in lieu of notice, and often the cost of short-term cover.

Bestley called for all employers considering redundancies over the next few months to “get on with it now” so that 2009 would be a fresh start for all.

But Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, said HR professionals should steer clear of Bestley’s advice.

“Disruptive behaviour should be handled through the normal disciplinary processes, including warning the employee and giving them an opportunity to improve,” Emmott said.

“In any case, sacking people just before Christmas is unlikely to persuade the rest of the workforce that they are working for a decent employer.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber added: “Laying staff off just before Christmas is always a scrooge-like thing to do. Such mean treatment is likely to have a negative impact on the morale of staff returning to work after the Christmas break.”

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