Unproductive workers could be given the sack

By Ruth Mckee

Employees in the UK could be sacked for laziness or lack of productivity, if new proposals suggested in a leaked report are taken up by the government.

Radical recommendations, made in a report from venture capitalist Adam Beecroft commissioned by David Cameron, outlined proposals to scrap employment law legislation, the Telegraph reported.

This would enable employers to dismiss workers without fear of a lengthy hearing in an employment tribunal.

Mr Beercroft argues that 'unfair dismissal' legislation makes businesses underperform from fear of lengthy court cases that many small- and medium-sized businesses can't afford.

"The rules both make it difficult to prove that someone deserves to be dismissed, and demand a process for doing so which is so lengthy and complex that it is hard to implement," Mr Beercroft claimed in the report.

"This makes it too easy for employees to claim they have been unfairly treated and to gain significant compensation."

The proposals to scrap key elements of employment legislation mean that it would be easier for an employer to sack a worker based on subjective issues such as their personality or popularity. Mr Beercroft argued: "While this is sad I believe it is a price worth paying for all the benefits that would result from the change."

But unions are incensed by the proposals, which they argue will do little to stimulate growth.

"Scrapping protection against unfair dismissal, even for people who have given years of loyal service, will do absolutely nothing to boost the economy. Indeed if people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs it will lead consumers to spend even less," argues Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC.

"The clue is in the name. Employers already have plenty of powers to make fair dismissals. Giving them the right to act unfairly may go down well on the backbenches, but will horrify employees."

The leaked report is only in draft form but it is expected the government will publish Mr Beercroft's recommendations later this year in a bid to end rumours that the report is in favour of scrapping maternity rights for women.

The proposals have gone down well with business leaders, but opposition to the plans is expected from the Lib Dem benches.