David Gibson Crutes

Member Article

The Wastelands

Due to the fact that the Tipster was a distinct failure at O Level Stage (yes the Tipster did O Levels not GCSE’s), he had to give some rapid thought to what A Levels he should undertake to avoid having to work hard for a living.

Faced with difficult subjects such as chemistry, biology, mathematics, modern language and/or English literature, the Tipster decided that English literature seemed like the most sensible (and easiest option).

One of the standard texts was the stunning high point of T.S. Eliot’s writing career, namely The Waste Lands. Now any of you that have studied The Waste Lands will recall that this poem (in technical terms) goes on a bit. We were required to be able to memorise and recite large sections of poem as some type of exercise in memory recall and also an ability to “feel the rhythm of the poem”. Now the Tipster never really got the feel of the rhythm of the poem but never mind.

There are a couple of lines that stick out in the Tipster’s mind, most noticeably Eliot’s contention that “April is the cruellest month”. The message behind this was that a period at the beginning of growth can be incredibly painful and this is a theme that runs throughout the epic.

Now it could be said that April could be the cruellest month for employees. Recent changes to legislation means that from 6 April 2012 the qualifying period for unfair dismissal moves from one year to two years.

Essentially, this means that even if an employee has 18 months continuity of employment with an organisation then an employer can dismiss without necessarily having fair reason or having gone through a fair procedure (bar in the event that there are issues in relation to discrimination/other statutory protected areas). Of course this is a technical area and there will be transitional arrangements in place and you should of course seek advice from your designated professor of law on the actual ramifications.

However, undoubtedly this is going to give employers a great deal more flexibility in dealing with members of staff.

However, is this really of benefit to employers. On the headlines – yes it is. Certainly in relation to redundancy dismissals or performance issues it gives employers a longer period of time within which to operate without fearfully facing the unfair dismissal claim. Although is this actually good news? The Tipster doesn’t necessarily think that this will open the floodgates for employers as those with a proactive/progressive approach to managing employees will undoubtedly be separating the wheat from the chaff and dealing with attendant problems, far earlier than year one or 18 months into the contractual relationship.

Yes – there is further breathing room for employers but good practice would be suggesting that if you get your induction programmes right and manage staff effectively, then really these problems will not be coming up at month 18 of the employment relationship and April changes may not necessarily be cruel for either employer or employee because they have dealt with the problem already. Now as Eliot ends his poem the objective is of course to ensure that despite the trials and tribulations of The Waste land, peace in the end is found.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by David Gibson .

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