Unfair dismissal is the new ‘whiplash’

In his latest blog, Frank McKenna calls on the government to reform employment law legislation to protect businesses from vexatious claimants.

Frank McKenna

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P&O has rightly been castigated for the appalling way in which it treated its workforce recently. The illegal dismissal of 800 staff was nothing short of a disgrace. In the absence of any effective action the government is realistically able to take against the ferry operator, we can only hope that the reputational damage to the firm will be long-term.

What the P&O case does, yet again, is shine a light on bad business practice, and in many people’s eyes, confirms that everyone in the private sector are charlatans who are out for what they can get.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and 99.9% of businesses and business owners are working hard not simply to provide jobs and grow the economy, but put something back into the cities, towns, and communities where they operate.

And, for those businesses, employment legislation is as challenging them as it was for those P&O workers.   

In a recent case, a guy was banned from taking any employer to a tribunal again, having instigated 40 employment tribunal cases.

An extreme example of a vexatious claimant, but it is fair to say that there are thousands of vexatious claims being made against companies every month – and it is becoming an expensive, anxious, and bureaucratic nightmare for companies to deal with. ‘Unfair dismissal’ has become the new ‘whiplash’ for professional ambulance chasers.

As business faces unprecedented costs, it is time for government to revisit employment law, beef up the role of ACAS, and start to penalise those – individuals and law firms – who are abusing the system.

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