The row over the Beecroft report today is fascinating because the main recommendation – allowing bosses to fire at will – has polarised political opinion.
In Westminster there is a very clear divide. There are those who think this would cause mass job insecurity, prompting a decline in consumer sentiment as people decide to save instead of spend. (While thousands of people would be sacked without any just cause by managers who simply don’t like them). Then there are those who believe that companies would hire many more staff if they didn’t have the red tape of having to maintain their services even if business turns bad.
Beecroft was not only hired at Steve Hilton’s request: the fresh reminder that the report has been sidelined also appears to be a parting gift from the prime minister’s controversial policy “guru”. (George Parker and Kiran Stacey have written a good piece here about Hilton’s departure.)
We splashed this morning on Vince Cable’s view that the recommendation was “bonkers“. He has since gone out calling it the “wrong approach“, pushed by “ideological zealots“. But Tory MPs argued this afternoon in the Commons that the changes would help free up business to carry out a hiring boom.
But this was not the only recommendation in the Beecroft report: there are others, some of which are being ignored but some of which are being enacted. As such it is not a simple case of Cable defying Hilton completely.
The report has just been published on the BIS website.
* Beecroft wanted to delay or end the idea of shared parental leave and flexible working. But it was in the Queen’s Speech and so will go ahead.
* The proposal to exempt the smallest firms from seven employment laws is new – although there is no evidence of it being enacted.
* Reducing the notice period for collective redundancies by large firms: this is already being consulted on.
* Relaxing the Tupe rules protecting employees when a business changes hands. This has been consulted on recently.
* Equal pay audits. This is still in limbo having been in Labour’s Equalities Act but is as yet not implemented.
* A new online immigration system to enter details of any immigrant who applies for a new position, which would ease the burden on future employers.
* A cap on part of the compensation levels in discrimination cases, which are currently uncapped in tribunals. May not be possible under EU law.
* Exemption for small companies from pension auto-enrolment. That will not happen.