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The government is set to launch a consultation on “protected conversations” to gauge the best way to enable employers and staff to discuss difficult situations without fear of legal action.
Currently, employers who tackle poor performance or retirement issues face potential discrimination claims from employees because such discussions are often legal grey areas.
However, the government hopes to clarify the law with a new consultation which could provide improved guidelines for both parties.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We want businesses to create jobs. But if employers are so concerned about the prospect of being taken to tribunal that they don’t feel they can have frank conversations with their employee, many companies just won’t feel able to create those jobs in the first place.
"We will be consulting on the introduction of protected conversations, so a boss and an employee feel able to sit down together and have a frank conversation - at either's request."
This would mean both parties agreeing to have a difficult conversation “without prejudice” – that is, without fear of anything said in such a conversation being used as a reason for later legal action. The hope is that protected conversations would enable employers to resolve issues or grievance at an earlier stage and avoid costly tribunal action.
A similar system already exists in France where employers can openly discuss issues with staff without fear of a legal case.
However, speaking to PM last month The Age and Employment Network warned that unscrupulous employers could abuse the system and use it to initiate inappropriate discussions. Discriminatory comments should not be unchallengeable, the network said.
This is the latest in a raft of government efforts to empower employers to boost performance and create jobs by slashing red tape.
Last month, ministers unveiled plans to change the minimum period of employment before an unfair dismissal claim can be launched from one to two years.
whatever the size of organisation if you create a pretty transparent way of dealing with issues then there is the trust level that is so important and legislation becomes unnecessary. As has been stated before the issue arises with the less scrupulous employer. Though I have sympathy for very small employers who are damned if they do and damned if they don't and do not understand where to get practical, free advice - and also are burdened by legislative demands in all areas.
Have your say...<br/>on the face of it a common sensical move although I hope discussion plans are not confined to older workers about retirement but can be explored with all who may be thinking about leaving their employment permanently or temporarily. The problem is of course that peronal plans are just that; and can change for all sorts of reasons ! If they are "without predjudice" then neither side can be held to account if that happens.
I wish there was a "like" button....I couldn't agree more with Roger's comment!
So now we want to legalise bullying and harassment through 'protected conversations'. Who do they think they are kidding with this latest sop to business organisations who want a return to the hire and fire at will process. I have yet to see the evidence that employers are not employing people because they can't sack them at will! Is it possible that people are not being offered jobs because employers don't have any work for them?