Will PCs be seen as PC?

The latest development in the Government’s proposals on protected conversations will do nothing to enable ‘difficult conversations’.

 

The latest proposals to amend the Employment Rights Act to include what have become known as Protected Conversations (PCs) asks more questions than it gives answers.  The proposal allows for employers to have ‘confidentiality of negotiations before the termination of employment’ yet PCs cannot be used:

  • where there are claims of discrimination
  • where the employee’s dismissal is automatically unfair
  • “In relation to anything said or done which in the tribunal’s opinion was improper, or was connected with improper behaviour…”
Detail is clearly needed here – the latter point is ripe for creating yet further disputes between an employee and employer who are already unlikely not to be seeing eye to eye.  How can an employer have any confidence initiating a PC if they believe a Tribunal may retrospectively consider the discussion to be ‘improper’?
Employer organisations often cite uncertainty and lack of clarity as one of their bugbears.  Using this measure, the end of term report on this bill will surely read “Some interesting ideas but more detail is needed to ensure the finished project is worthy of further reading”.