Don’t let Beecroft return us to Dickensian workplaces


Last week the Government published the Beecroft Report following leaks in a national newspaper. This appears to be the latest of the Government’s attempts to commemorate Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday by trying to re-create the living and working conditions of his day. The report contains numerous proposals which, if implemented, would represent the largest reduction in workplace rights for a generation.

Perhaps the most concerning proposal is the call for the introduction of ‘no fault dismissals’, essentially giving employers the right to fire workers for no reason. As someone who is active in my union branch I am aware of employers who have dismissed staff for the flimsiest of reasons with the unfortunate employees often having no recourse to fight for their jobs. If this proposal is implemented the Government would not only give a green light to this behaviour but actually make it even easier for poor employers to fire at will.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, while welcoming some of Beecroft’s proposals, has voiced his opposition to no fault dismissals. If we have learnt one thing over the last two years however, something which working people also learned during Dickens’s day, it is that we cannot trust the Liberals to stand up and fight for our interests. In Dickens’s time workers responded by forming trade unions with the Labour Party formed shortly after. I would very much hope that their present day incarnations will be on the front line in the fight to bring down these proposals.

In the first instance the Government have handed us an ideal chance for our voice to be heard. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are currently consulting on proposals to introduce ‘no fault dismissal’ for workplaces with fewer than ten employees. This gives us a golden opportunity to send a resounding message to the Government that we will not stand by while our rights are trampled on.

While Dickens often charted injustices he saw around him with his pen today we can use our keyboards.

You can voice your opposition to this change by:


The consultation runs until June 8th.