I see Vince Cable has been hawking himself around the media all day trying to make excuses for the Tory policy to reduce employment rights for workers. Once again the Lib Dems allowing themselves to be used as human shields by their Tory masters.
Vince’s excuse is that employment tribunals can represent a major cost to small businesses. Which isn’t actually true, of course. As the majority of workers in small businesses are not in trade unions they tend to represent themselves, and therefore there is absolutely no reason for an employer to spend a fortune on legal representation to present their case. The informality of the tribunal procedure is set up to allow both parties to do exactly that. And as long as the employers have a reasonable case, and reasonableness is the test in most employment cases, they have nothing to fear, and little to lose. Even if the number of trivial or vexatious cases were to be a problem, some form of sifting and arbitration arrangement with ACAS or a Tribunal should enable those to be discarded at an earlier stage.
But as anyone who has dealt with employment cases knows, the 12 month qualification before you get your employment rights is crucial. In that first 12 months your employer can sack you virtually at will, unless you can prove something around sex discrimination or race. That hangs over the employees heads like a giant axe. If you work in the catering industry, retail, hotel or bar work and dozens of other small scale businesses you can forget the working time regulations, health and safety law and numerous other regulations on employers. The first time you complain, out you bloody well go. As soon as employees have that twelve months under their belt they can at least use the potential of an Employment Tribunal to attempt to get some protection
Of course, you could argue that these rogue employers will at least keep people for 23 months before getting rid of them. But what it also means is doubling the amount of time that workers are exploited by unscrupulous employers during that period.
Cable can use his weasel words to say he is trying to protect small businesses, but what his words really mean is he is helping rogue to bully their employees and break the law.