Did Grant Shapps admit breaking employment law?

31st July, 2013 5:03 pm

Today, Grant Shapps told Policy Exchange:

“I started a printing company 23 years ago, it still runs to this day and we have always sat there and wondered how it is that when you know that somebody is not working out right for the company, like you know just not fitting into that role, you have to effectively end up coming up with less than… sort of disingenuous reasons why you need to change that role. I think you have to say ‘that role itself is now redundant’ and reengineer the way that that department operates. Or you have to say, that person is so bad at their job that you must fire them and it’s disciplinary and it will go on, carry on when they try and get a job somewhere else. That means there are only two ways of dealing with wanting to bring a contract to an end. You will either have to pretend the role has gone or you have to fire the person.

Sounds like a fairly clear breach of employment law. Perhaps some of his previous employees might like to come forwards?

And did Grant Shapps come up with these “disingenuous reasons”? Or did he get “Michael Green” to do it for him…?

Update: We’ve been doing a bit of research into what Shapps said and consulting employment lawyers on whether or not he appears to have admitted breaking employment law. The answer? Yes. Here’s Stephen Cavalier, Head of employment specialists Thompsons Solictors:

“Yes, it’s a breach of employment law. An employer must have a genuine reason to dismiss. A redundancy only occurs where the requirement for people to carry out particular work has ceased or diminished. Where the employer does not have a valid, permissible reason for dismissal, then the dismissal is unfair and the employee can bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal (if they have at least 2 years’ service). The claim has to be brought within three months of the dismissal. What Grant Shapps describes is a breach of employment law and bad employment practice. It also suggests a lack of understanding of employment law.”

Paul Callaghan, a partner at Taylor Wessing specialising in employment law, had this to say:

“Employees now need two years service to gain unfair dismissal rights. This government has already introduced fees to bring claims and reduced the cap on compensation for unfair dismissal. A move to a US at will employment model would be counterproductive. It would reduce loyalty, demotivate staff and there is no evidence it will increase employment levels. We need evidence based policy not policy dreamt up to make it easier for the worst employers to fire at will.”

And Alison Downie, Head of Employment at Goodman Derrick, said:

“Pretending the role has gone..” is a potential breach of employment law by an employer company. If it is not a genuine redundancy legally, or indeed if there has been no fair selection of that employee for redundancy or consultation, then the dismissal of an employee in those circumstances, absent agreement from the employee, would be unlawful. It is an unfair dismissal and the employee ( if employed for 2 years) would have a good claim against a company for compensation for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. In very limited situations there might be an associated problem with any declaration a company has made to HMRC on a pretend “redundancy” dismissal, in relation to non-deduction of tax and NI from any “redundancy” or other payments, if it is not a genuine redundancy.

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  • Chilbaldi

    What an absolute muppet. He’ll dig his own grave one day.

    • Richas

      I think you mean he will get some bloke with a false name to dig it then sack them without a proper pay off and forget to pay him for the job……….meanwhile he will claim some government work placement fee before condemning the grave digger as a scrounger….

  • Brumanuensis

    “I started a printing company 23 years ago, it still runs to this day and we have always sat there and wondered how it is that when you know that somebody is not working out right for the company, like you know just not fitting into that role, you have to effectively end up coming up with less than… sort of disingenuous reasons why you need to change that role”.

    But here’s the thing, Michael. You don’t need ‘disengenuous reasons’. Under existing employment law, it is perfectly possible to dismiss someone who is not performing adequately or to an employer’s satisfaction, as long as the employee in question is treated fairly throughout the process ( https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/fair-dismissals ) ( https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/dismissals-on-capability-or-conduct-grounds ).

  • JoeDM

    He’s being a sensible owner/manager and ensuring that his business continues by weeding out the ineffective employees. That’s what managers have to do.

    No SME can be an ongoing success if it ignores the deadweight of ineffective/incompetent/lazy employees. You have to manage or engineer them out.

    • gunnerbear

      “No SME can be an ongoing success if it ignores the deadweight of ineffective/incompetent/lazy employees. You have to manage or engineer them out.”

      JDM,

      I think in essence sadly you are being brutally honest but correct. I suspect the same sort of thing goes on in every company.

  • Daniel Speight

    The man is a spiv and shows some of the worse in our political class.

  • Monkey_Bach

    I cannot think of another Conservative leader who would have promoted a wretched dishonest and dishonourable scum-bucket like Grant Shapps aka Michael Green aka Sebastian Fox to be Conservative Party Chairman come Minister without Portfolio.

    Shapps is an adventurer and a rogue with no redeeming features whatsoever.

    David Cameron must have a very flexible spine to be able to stoop that low.

    Eeek.

  • James HC

    I’m not surprised you found some lawyers to give you reassuring advice about this. It’s the lawyers who benefit from the deplorable state of employment protection legislation in this country. Oh and the bankers too, of course: they’re the ones who can afford to bring the tribunal cases we read about in the press.

    Grant Shapps was being refreshingly honest. He wasn’t talking about “useless” or “underperforming” employees. He was talking about the ones who don’t “fit in”, i.e. ones he decides he doesn’t like. No procedure could make sacking such people “fair” because they’re doing a perfectly good job. So the psychopathic/bored/jealous/newly arrived boss has to come up with “disingenuous reasons” to terminate their contracts.

    Unfortunately this scenario is an everyday reality in the British workplace. You don’t get to hear about it too much because the unions and their lawyers persuade the sacked employees to settle any claims and sign up to the disingenuous reasons, or other pieces of fiction, in return for a “decent package”, and there will be a gagging clause attached.

    The well intentioned laws of the Harold Wilson era have failed the workers. They now protect the bosses instead: they can hide behind these laws, and the myths they have created about fairness, and pretend they don’t actually sack people on a whim, they just leave for “personal reasons” or whatever. The legislation is not fit for purpose. Grant Shapps is right about that but you won’t find fat cat employment lawyers agreeing with that. No surprises there.

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