23 Nov 2011

Did Cameron get what he wanted from Beecroft lite?

Should any bosses of companies with under 10 employees be thinking that they are about to be passed powers to have a word with an irritating employee and get shot of them they should probably not be getting their hopes up. Vince Cable’s speech on employment rights doesn’t go that far.

He’s not saying that employment regulations for micro-companies should go. He’s not even saying that there should be a “consultation” on that. He’s saying there will be a “call for evidence” on the matter. That’s a pretty sharp dig at Adrian “CJ” Beecroft and the lack of evidence in his report on how less employment regulation would help economic growth.

There was painful crunching of this issue in wider ministerial meetings and in the Quad, with David Cameron determined there should be something to show for Mr Beecroft’s work. So Vince Cable eventually conceded a “call for evidence”.

Whitehall Consultations tend to take a minimum of 4 months (about 12 weeks for the actual subsmissions and then a minimum of a month for a high speed consideration).

What Vince Cable is signalling with his “call for evidence” is that he doesn’t think there’s anything much out there – a bit like whistling for a help in an empty canyon. Of course, he could be wrong and the submissions and data could come piling in.

But that’s not Vince Cable’s expectation.  David Cameron got “Beecroft lite,” some say, but some Tories may come away from all this thinking this is a “caffeine-free, diet, zero, skinny Beecroft” and the Lib Dems have frustrated what they see as vital reform yet again.

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5 reader comments

  1. Saltaire Sam says:

    I’ve never understood how undermining the workforce yet again is supposed to increase productivity.

    Do you think all those slaps round the head so beloved of public schools addled the brains of our tory leaders?

  2. Philip says:

    There is a perceived problem with underperforming employees and small firms are more vulnerable than large ones. That said, 25 years in management & 9 in HR have shown me that the problem is generally as much weak & unskilled, unconfident managers. Of course, some people milk the system, but the details which are emerging of this consultation suggest it could still be a charter for weak managers to subject employees to bullying, etc (What can reasonably be covered under a “privileged conversation”?)The devil will be in the detail – no doubt enshrined in yet another piece of detailed legislation with which employment lawyers and M’Lud will have yet another profitable (for them) field day. Effort should be put into providing advice, support & training to managers to tackle under-performance effectively rather than this attempted crowd-pleaser for restive Tory backbenchers.

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    Worry not. Even if it DOES go through in its original form, you can guarantee the Tories will be back with further curtailment of workers rights. It’s what they do to increase profits for their chums.

    You can guarantee that if it went through for small firms it would be just a matter of time before it was introduced, salami-style, to ALL employment legislation. That too is what they do.

    As for Saint Vincent and Cleggy, if they had a trace of conscience and integrity they’d get out of the coalition and denounce the Tories for what they are: the same old reactionary spiv profiteers. They could let the Tories do their own dirty work and oppose them. Won’t happen, though.

  4. Caliban says:

    There may not be any evidence for Beercroft’s specific measures, but there is a lot of evidence for Constructive Non-intervention.

    The wealth of Hong Kong was built on it, and it turned HK from a small impoverished island to one of the worlds most successful economies. Even China has used a version of it to get it’s economic miracle.

    In a First World developed economy it’s just not practical or desirable to apply it across the board. BUT it is the key to growth, and so are small companies.

    So deregulate SMEs completely (or as near completely as possible) and let them grow. I would also invest in reducing SME taxation to a bare minimum, in particular employers NI. And maybe even VAT.

    All these changes should be scaled by number of employees. So the burden of taxation and regulation gradually increases with each employee taken on. From near zero at five to the current level at (say) 50.

  5. Gary says:

    If a manager is harrassing or genenerally making it hard for the employees, how do they fire him/her?

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