NEWS
10/09/2012 08:21 BST | Updated 10/09/2012 08:27 BST

Michael Fallon Backs Negotiated Settlement As A Way To Reduce Burden On Employers

Michael Fallon, the new business minister, has hinted that measures will be introduced later this week to make it easier for employers to fire under-performing staff.

The negotiated settlement policy, which stems from the controversial Beecroft report, by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, would see employers enter into negotiations with under-performing staff to terminate their working relationship - potentially with some form of payoff - rather than using a court tribunal.

Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, he said his vision did not advocate a 'fire at will' policy, but aimed to make it simpler, easier and less adversarial to terminate employment when a working relationship breaks down.

"Tribunals are very expensive, take up management’s time and often involve bad publicity – we’re looking to move away to a simpler way where you can negotiate a settlement if it simply doesn’t work out," he said.

When asked how the disputes would be resolved without a tribunal, Fallon started to respond, before stopping himself, saying he didn't "want to steal the thunder" from a fellow cabinet minister's speech on the reforms - expected to take place later this week.

Fallon was also keen to state the changes would make it easier to hire new staff, though declined to go into further details.

This development signals business secretary Vince Cable could be in for a showdown with his new minister.

Cable has already dismissed large elements of the Beecroft report and has indicated existing changes to the tribunal system are enough to assist both employers and their staff.

He also somewhat testily pointed out Fallon is "not actually responsible for employment law" on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday, adding: "There are already reforms, which I’ve introduced, to the tribunal system that get rid of the bureaucracy around labour disputes.”

Both men have publicly stated they are "working together" on all policies and reforms and have launched its review into cutting red tape on 10 September side by side - but it remains to be seen whether these hire and fire reforms will be 'watered down' in Conservatives eyes or 'a step too far' in the Liberal Democrats view.