The Government’s “employers charter” was published today (27th January). The two page document appears to have been written on the bag of a cigar packet by a recent graduate of the Arthur Daley School of Human Resource Management.
Sadly, it was actually written by Vince “H Bomb” Cable’s department the Department for Business and Skills. The charter turns the clock back to the days of red braces and mobiles the size of a brick and gives the green light for bad and fly by night bosses to undermine basic employment rights, cajole, bully and mislead employers. It even encourages employers to sack staff.
The caveat at the end of the information states: “This is intended to help employers understand what they can do in general. Of course, individual circumstances may vary and employers should act in accordance with their legal obligations”.
Among those things they can do “in general” are:
Contact a woman on maternity leave and ask her when she is returning to work – inviting harrassment claims.
Make an employee redundant if there is a downturn in work – with no mention of consultation with the employee.
Ask an employee to take holidays when it suits the business – which in some cases will mean never, or during periods incovenient to parents.
Get employees to sign an opt-out from the Working Time Regulations – which were introduced as health and safety measure against long hours and could undermine properly negotiated working time agreements between unions and employers encouraging a “work till you drop” culture.
Ask employees to take a pay cut – no mention of the Wages Act and illegal deduction from wages.
Reject requests the right to work flexibly – a cornerstone of family friendly legislation trumpeted by the Conservatives and Lib Dems as essential in a modern day economy.
Ask an employee about their retirement plans. Nudge nudge….
The whole document is a disgrace and those responsible – including the increasingly lacklustre Cable – should withdraw it and apologise for issuing such appalling advice in such a crass way.
As Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: “It’s no coincidence that the employers’ charter comes on the same day the government proposes to make it easier to fire workers but harder for them to access justice in the courts. The government have declared open season on workers rights. In reality this does employers no favours. Employers who misinterpret this advice will quickly find themselves in court and the guidance threatens to cause chaos across industry.”