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« Qualifications | Main | Lib Dems in liberalism shocker? »
Wednesday
Nov292006

Unfair dismissal

No, not a posting about my readers' reactions to my postings, but a better way to deal with relations between employers and employees.

In a previous job I was witness to the corruption that is the employment litigation industry. An employee at my place of work decided she had had enough of it. She stormed into her boss's office and screamed that she was leaving and not coming back. She was gently told to calm down and to come back after the weekend and talk it through. On Monday she reappeared, armed with her letter of resignation which she slapped down in front of the boss man, and walked out.

"Fine", he thought.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later he received notification from her lawyers that she was suing the company for unfair dismissal!

At this point the lawyers had to be called, and the fees started clocking up. The first reaction was to offer an out of court settlement (a couple of grand, if I recall correctly), which was duly done. Unbelievably, this was rejected out of hand, and the case went all the way to tribunal. Here, a few thousand in fees later, it was peremptorily thrown out. Of course the tribunal was asked to award costs but this request was rejected by the tribunal. Costs in these kinds of cases are virtually never awarded to the employer.

This is absolutely typical of employment tribunals. Grasping employees are in a win-win situation. It is always worth their while to "have a go" because they are funded by legal aid (in Scotland, at least), and they know that costs will not be awarded against them. The losers are the honest employees whose own wages will bear the brunt of the costs.

And none of the political parties is proposing to do anything about it. 

So what to do about it? There is a much simpler and better way of dealing with it. In Switzerland (that den of exploiters of the working classes) the relations between employer and employees are governed by ...wait for it...contracts of employment. Everything clear and simple. Liberal. Fair.

It could never happen here.

(Hat tip: Libertarian Home

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Reader Comments (1)

God yes, I've been the victim of this twice. On both occasions my Employment Lawyer said to me that : he could do this case, and we would win, but he would have to take statements, prepare a case, etc., and this would cost £xxxx, so he 'advised' me and I did it myself. Rather enjoyed it actually, and won both.

I would say that while the funding process is a one-sided joke, the tribunal itself was both fair and not "legalistic".
Nov 30, 2006 at 7:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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