Union push for staff rights from day one

Unions are calling for staff to be given employment rights from their first
day at work in an imminent review of the Employment Relations Act (1999).

The review is expected to start soon and the TUC is drawing up a 90-page
wishlist that could lead to sweeping changes.

The unions will be pushing for staff to be able to apply to employment
tribunals for unfair dismissal from day one of employment instead of the
current period of one year.

The TUC is also calling for the abolition of zero-hours contracts – where
staff are called in at short notice to cover busy periods – and the removal of
the £51,700 cap on unfair dismissal awards.

Sarah Veal, a senior employment rights officer at the TUC, told Personnel
Today she expects the report by September.

Deputy director of employment policy at the Engineering Employers’
Federation David Yeandle is concerned the Government will approve some of the
changes being proposed by the unions as part of a trade-off in its efforts to
increase private sector involvement in public services.

"The surprise is that it’s going to be a much wider review than
expected and this could open a Pandora’s box," he said.

He is unhappy that the TUC is trying to impose additional demands on
employers through the review after failing to have them included when the Act
was originally drawn up. "It’s opening up discussions on areas that have
been dealt with already," he explained.

CIPD adviser on employee relations Mike Emmott believes the TUC proposals are
unnecessary and questioned whether they would be adopted.

"Our view is there is no basis for changing legislation," he said.

Under the Employment Relations Act 1999, unions can enforce recognition
through the Central Arbitration Committee.


By Ross wigham

What the TUC wants

Consultation on the review of the Employee Relations Act (1999)
could lead to a White Paper as early as September. TUC proposals include:

– lifting the £51,700 cap on unfair dismissal awards

– giving staff employment rights from day one – allowing them
to claim for unfair dismissal from their first day at work

– the abolition of zero-hours contracts – where staff can be
called in at short notice to cover for busy periods

– union recognition legislation to be extended to small firms

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