The government appears to have lost site of the UK’s umbrella company and limited company workforce in its plans to alter employee rights. The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) has raised concerns over the plan to double the amount of time employees must remain with a company before they become eligible to lodge unfair dismissal claims. The proposal, known as the “employer’s charter,” was reported by the Daily Telegraph earlier this week and is under consideration by the government presently. But should it become law, it could leave many workers “exposed” to genuinely unfair dismissal, the IER maintains.

Currently, employees can make unfair dismissal claims after 12 months of employment, but the employer’s charter would extend this to two years. The overall aim is to stimulate growth in the private sector but the IER’s Director, Carolyn Jones, suggested that so far as employment rights were concerned, the government had lost touch with reality. She believes that extending the qualifying period to two years would bring back a “revolving door” labour market.

It may be a lot less costly and harmful for employee relations if the government were to consider encouraging more companies to use temporary contract jobs. Such measures would enable them to reduce the costs of hiring staff on a permanent basis, especially when specific projects that may not be long term need to be staffed. The contractor workforce in the UK already has great flexibility, and can be hired and “released” at relatively short notice. Perhaps more employers and employees might consider this option rather than weaken employment protection.

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