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The Beecroft Report - Good for Business?
There has been lots of discussion recently about changes to employment legislation – most of it confusing to many employers – and alarming to others. So what exactly has been proposed by Adrian Beecroft and are the ideas likely to result in changes in the way you manage your staff?

Beecroft’s aim was to come up with ideas of ways to reduce the burden on employers, making it easier for them to take on staff and, ultimately perform well.

At the same time, a new Bill - the Enterprise & Regulatory Reform Bill – has been put before Parliament. This is quite separate from the Beecroft report, and shouldn’t be confused.

Here's a selection of some of the most talked-about issues put forward in the Beecroft Report:

Compensated no-fault dismissals
Employers should be able to dismiss employees and buy off their unfair dismissal claims with a set payment equivalent to statutory redundancy. Discrimination and some other claims could still be pursued separately.

Much of the debate about this has been to do with whether or not making dismissal easier (or 'firing at will') would actually aid business growth.

Beecroft has suggested removing the Equality Act's third party harassment provisions and perhaps re-introduce the Default Retirement Age (DRA.) Whatever your views on the DRA it is extremely unlikely that it would be reintroduced.

Employment law opt outs
The report proposes that employers with fewer than 10 employees should be allowed to opt out of some employment laws, including unfair dismissal and flexible parental leave. However, this more likely to encourage bad management as well as a two-tier system for employees. Putting this in place would discourage micro businesses from growing, so would be counter-intuitive to the aim of developing business.

Tribunal process and awards
The report encourages the government to introduce many of the changes already in hand (such as a fee for bringing a claim). The report also proposes limiting the future financial loss aspect of compensatory awards.

Collective consultation
Beecroft suggests that the period of collective consultation should be reduced to 30 days (or five in the case of insolvency) regardless of the number of proposed redundancies. Currently there are longer periods required for large numbers of proposed redundancies. [Note that the government has just announced that it intends to reduce the 90 days period for redundancies proposed for 100 or more employees - see separate article above.]

Overall, the report has not been well received and so many of the items put forward are unlikely to be introduced. However, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is of more interest and employers need to take more notice of that.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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