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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