06 December 2014

Unfair Dismissal

As Jersey's new Social Security Minister proposes extending the 'qualifying period' for unfair dismissal from 6 months to a year, the questions surrounding workers' rights on the one hand and burdens placed on employers on the other once again come into question.

I have written a letter (below) to the Minister raising my concerns. But before we go onto that, I think it is necessary to briefly ask: what is the common ground and what is the problem, if any, that we are trying to solve?

Unfair dismissal is not something that we should be encouraging.

I hope the above statement is something that any fair minded person can sign up to.

However, it would seem that the decision of the Minister flies in the face of this self-evident truth. If the Minister's proposal is implemented unchallenged and unamended, unfair dismissal will become more common, as the employer will have 12 months to dismiss unfairly, not six.

The Ministers rationale for the move is to 'encourage employers to take on more staff' and ' remove one of the perceived barriers to employing staff'.

So my questions remain: is this the best way to do this? What is the common ground? What are we trying to acheive?

Well, let's start with the law: Article 61 of the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003 states:

'An employee shall have the right not to be unfairly dismissed by his or her employer.'

So, this is pretty clear. However, currently, you cannot challenge a dismissal you feel to be unfair until you have been employed for 6 months (with some exceptions - see below). This 'right' is therefore being futher restricted if we extend the qualification period to a year.

To put the other side of the argument, it is my understanding that some employers think that (1) the process which one has to go through to dismiss an employee who is (a) either not performing well enough or (b) not suited to the job is too onerous;  warnings need to be given, and due process observed, etc.

(2) There is also the perception that on occasion vexatious claims can be made against the employer and that the agreived party has 'nothing to lose' by making a complaint. It would be interesting to get the stats and more information on this, but it seems to me that if this is a genuine concern, there would be other ways to address this issue than by extending the qualification period. It is a blunt tool which does not differentiate between legitimate claimants and vexatious ones.

It seems to me, if a more acceptable definition of what constitutes 'unfair dismissal' could be agree and an acceptable way of ensuring fair safeguards and process for both parties, then unfair dismissal could be effectively prohibited from day one. I am certain that no reasonable employer wants to act in an unfair way.


Social Security Minister, Deputy Susie Pinel


So without further ado, here is my open letter to the Social Security Minister:

 -------------

Dear Minister,


I was concerned to learn via the press release yesterday that the ability for an employer to dismiss someone unfairly, without challenge from the employee, is to be made easier. And that this significant and controversial  decision should be made solely by Ministerial decision and not the Assembly as a whole.

 
There remain sound reasons why such a decision – with the potential for both intended and unintended consequences – should be subject to scrutiny of the wider membership as well as, potentially, official scrutiny from the relevant panel.


Some points for consideration are as follows:
 
-          The second, third and fourth elements of the discrimination law have not yet been brought forward, so whilst it will still be possible for a dismissal on the grounds of racial discrimination to be challenged as unfair (and illegal), there will be no such possibility for a woman who is dismissed after 11 months because she becomes pregnant. Employers will still be able to be sacked on the basis of their gender, age, disability or sexual orientation – now for up to a year.

-          As such, comparisons with the Northern Ireland and the UK (which has had discrimination legislation for 4 decades) does not tell the whole story.

-          Your statement says that you are ‘confident that a one year qualifying period will encourage employers to take on more staff.’ However, there is no real evidence has been provided to suggest that this will be the case.

-          Similarly, your press release talks about removing one of the ‘perceived’ barriers to employing staff, without scrutinising whether that perception is a valid one.
 
The reality of your proposals is that it will make it easier to dismiss an employee, without due process, for up to a year on grounds which any fair-minded individual might term ‘unfair’.

This will not affect good employers, but it will make life easier for less professional employers to tout best practice, without any recourse from the worker.

As such, I would ask you:

1)      to consider extending the criteria for which a case may be taken to the Employment tribunal from day one (without a qualifying period) to include other appropriate provisions (including those listed above).

2)      to bring this proposal to the States, with a full report and proposition, for the consideration of the Assembly as a whole. 
 

Kind regards,

 
Montfort

 
Deputy M. Tadier

 --------------------
Press Release from the Minister - 5 December 2014
 

Embargoed until 00.01 hours on 5 December 2014
5 December 2014



Minister changes rules for unfair dismissal claims





The Minister for Social Security has decided to extend the qualifying period for unfair dismissal complaints from six months to one year.

Currently, an employee who feels that they have been unfairly dismissed may make a complaint to the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal if they have 6 months’ service with their employer. The Minister has decided that, from 1 January next year, employees must have one year’s service before they are entitled to make a complaint.
The change will only apply to new jobs that start on or after 1 January 2015. Employees who already have a job will retain the right to claim unfair dismissal after 6 months’ continuous service.
Minister for Social Security, Deputy Susie Pinel, said "I am confident that a one year qualifying period will encourage employers to take on more staff and will make a real difference to locally-based small businesses. The additional six months to assess whether a person is right for the job should increase the number of employers who are willing to give a local jobseeker a chance through one of our Back to Work initiatives. I also believe that this change has the potential to motivate employers to offer more permanent terms and conditions of employment to employees, rather than entering into casual staffing arrangements."
The change has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers. The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst commented, "During the elections, I pledged to support local businesses and I have made it clear that one of my priorities as Chief Minister is to promote growth and create employment opportunities. By extending the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims - to a period that is in line with our competitor jurisdictions - we are sending a positive signal to businesses and removing one of the perceived barriers to employing staff. We need to boost growth, and to do that we need to get more people into work. This amendment will help us achieve that priority."


-ends-

Notes to Editors




1. The qualifying periods for protection against unfair dismissal in other jurisdictions are;

 One year in the Isle of Man
 One year in Guernsey
 One year in Northern Ireland
 Two years in the UK
2. Employees will continue to be entitled to take an unfair dismissal complaint to the Tribunal from day one of employment in certain circumstances. There is no requirement for an employee to have a qualifying period of service in any the following circumstances;
 dismissal for asserting a statutory right
 dismissal for being or proposing to become a member of a trade union
 dismissal for representing or proposing to represent an employee in a disciplinary or grievance hearing
 selection for redundancy on grounds related to union membership or activity, and
 where the reason for dismissal is a prohibited act of race discrimination.
.

24 October 2014

'All Art is Political'


What do you think an artist is? ...he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” - Pablo Picasso. 


I am pleased to post this video montage created by local artist Kim Jordan featuring the recent interview she did with BBC Radio Jersey's Olivia Le Poidevin. 

I hope you enjoy!


video



06 October 2014

Vote: Ah but Yes!

I am pleased to post a guest posting from the 'Ah but yes, eh!' campaign.

Warning: contains parody. Do not get upset, it is just a bit of fun!

All characters quoted in this post are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Vote Ah But Yes, eh!



For Uncontested Elections, Self-Interest, Ossification and the continuation of the Old-boys network.


Efficiency

The loss of the Constables will weaken the ability of the Council of Ministers to force through legislation that harms lower and middle income earners. Without their guaranteed 10 or 12 votes for the Council of Minister, Jersey may turn Communist overnight.

Because the parishes control services locally, Jersey has been able to get away without providing new-fangled ideas, such as kerbside recycling, because it is not viable for 12 parishes to run separate schemes. If things like this were taken out of the hands of the parishes, then we would end up being ruled by ‘hippies’, who know the value of everything, but the cost of nothing!

If the Constables are removed from the States, people will expect the parishes to be run more competently. There is a risk that Constables will no longer be able to blame the demands of their States work for their failings in the parish, and their incompetence will be exposed. This must not be allowed to happen, as it could cause embarrassment.

Community

Through their political role, the Constables can wheel and deal behind the scenes. The loss of the Constables in the States will undoubtedly lead to a significant weakening of the old boys network – as has been the case in Guernsey for many years.

Constables have been identified as the future for ‘e-Government’, indeed, one Constable has already switched from analogue cigarettes to electronic cigarettes. Constables of the island ignite! Or not, as the case may be.

Through the Parish Assembly, and being available at the Parish Hall (well, of course not all of the time, because they are also full time States Members), the Constable is uniquely placed to be able to understand the 18 parishioners (if lucky) that turn up to these meetings. These concerns are then ignored, and the Constables vote the way they are told by the Treasury Minister, who will not fund parish schemes unless they votes as he says.  As such, the Constables are able to ‘filter out’ the noise of the parishioners who are not experts anyway, and make more sensible decisions.

Accountability

The Constables are continually accountable though the ballot box. It is simply not true to say that they are undemocratic, because all Parishes have, at least once in the last 500 years, all had contested elections. Indeed, St Ouen has even had two in the space of only 110 years.

Deputies do not represent the Parishes in the States.
They represent ‘humans’ who live in the Parishes. The Constables, on the other hand, represent the concept of the Parish – how on earth would the bunny rabbits and the trees and the stones be represented were it not for the Constables being in the States? Because of their ancient and arcane role, the Constables are able to communicate with animals and commune with the spirit of inanimate objects in the parish and make sure that their view on matters such as GST and human maternity leave can be taken into account.

The removal of the Constables has the potential to de-stabilise Jersey’s Government. The Finance Industry requires a right wing government. The removal of Constables, in favour of Humans who are elected specifically  to do the job, would almost certainly lead to a doomsday scenario where all the Banks would leave and move to Sark. This must not be allowed to happen.

There is a suggestion that Constables have a “block vote”. We acknowledge this, and so as a compromise, we have consulted with the Constables. They have agreed that only one of them will attend each States sitting, and cast 12 votes. This will free the others to do more work in their parishes, thus strengthening the parishes, but making sure that the States still make the right decisions, every time.

Reform

Constables have proven they are reforming States Members. They were so adamant that they should stay in the States, that they voted to weaken the Parish system by removing their own policing powers, which Constable Rondel described as ‘a nail in the coffin for the honorary system.’ Such self-sacrifice proves they are progressive.

The retention of the Constables is compliant with the Venus Commission, which makes allowances for feudal jurisdictions to do what they want.

Testimonials

Chief Minister Senator Jan Gorse:

“I am supporting the Vote for YES Campaign because I need the votes of  Connétables in the States to be Chief Minister again.’

Businessman Kevan Bean:

“So long as I am making money, I couldn’t care less about democracy”.


23 September 2014

2014 - A Manfiesto in 500 words


Personal
In the past six years, I have worked hard to deliver my manifesto pledges, including delivering improvements in housing standards and legal aid reforms. I am currently serving on the Access to Justice review, to provide Jersey with an accessible and affordable justice system. If re-elected, I wish to continue this work as well as focusing on the areas below.

Policies


Economy
A strong, sustainable and diversified economy is key for the success of Jersey and the well being of its residents. I will promote investment in tourism and cultural events, as well as supporting a transparent, ethical and sustainable finance sector as the backbone of our economy.

Jobs
A priority for Reform Jersey is to reduce unemployment and tackle the high cost of living. We support the introduction of a ‘Living Wage’, higher than the minimum wage, so that people can live without relying on income support. We support more help for working parents and will push for a full 26 weeks statutory maternity leave, so that family life is given the support that it needs. There must be a focus on vocational training for young people. We are committed to tackling the inappropriate use of zero-hour contracts.

Education
I wish to ensure that all children, no matter what their background or financial means, get access to a quality level of education. I am keen to promote early years learning of modern languages and improve primary school maths teaching. We must also do more to encourage life-long learning.

Health

Without our health, we have nothing. Many do not visit the GP when they need to because of cost. I will push for free GP visits and more affordable dentistry. It is unacceptable that our aging residents often have to wait so long for operations. This needs more investment to reduce waiting times. I will fight for improvements in mental health care and better provision for those with a disability and for their carers.

Public Services and Taxation
I will oppose any cuts to services that will hurt the vulnerable and those on low/fixed incomes, including pensioners. Reform Jersey candidates will oppose any increase in GST. If spending does need to increase, it is important that it does not hit ‘middle Jersey’.
We must look at progressive methods of taxation, including the restructuring of social security contributions: if contributions were actually levied at a flat rate, without a cap on earnings, a lower rate of 5% could be applied, benefiting the vast majority, whilst yielding an extra £7.5 million a year.

St Brelade
I pledge to work with the Constable and new deputies to maintain the unique beauty and community of our parish. I will oppose inappropriate development and push for a sustainable population policy for the island.

Referendum
Constables play an important role is island life. However, the roles of municipal head and being a politician are two separate jobs and should entail two separate elections. As such, I will be voting ‘no thanks’ on 15 October.

30 July 2014

Happy Birthday 70th Birthday to a True Living Legend


Today, Mike Dun is 70 years old. And this blog would like to wish him many happy returns, and say a few words, if it may, to celebrate this self-effacing local hero.

I have known Mike for a few years now through politics, and I am pleased to also call him a friend. Later this evening I will see him for a (non political) party and I hope he is wearing his full regalia, as in the photo above!

Mike (Mr Dun) will be well known to States Members and the staff of the Greffe and scrutiny, as he is someone who keeps a tight eye on public matters, as well as policies and legislation coming out of the Big House. Whether or not all of the aforementioned share my affection for Uncle Mike, I am not sure, because he is no doubt often a thorn in the side to them, especially when processes are not followed, and social policy is slow to appear.

And this is why Mike deserves special mention, today: he has been a tireless campaigner for justice and equality during his time in the island. He often takes up individual cases that some States Members are either unwilling or unable to take on. He is a keen supporter of the under-dog, the disaffected and dejected, as can be seen from his many posts.

Like any true hero, much of his good deeds are not seen, but they are still appreciated by those he helps.

So today, I wish a happy big 70 to Uncle Mike. I know that Tom Gruchy would be proud to call you one of his comrades.

I'll leave you a slightly comically aged video from 1993 of Mike talking in a programme on Human Rights in Jersey. 'Plus ça change...'


05 July 2014

Equal Marriage - the fight for civil rights goes on.



Crunch time for Equal Marriage - How can you help?Reproduced courtesy of http://sammezec.blogspot.com/
We now have a time and date for the Equal Marriage debate in the States of Jersey.

On Tuesday 8th July at 9.30am we will crack straight into the debate which could take several hours before it culminates in a vote.

Victory is by no means predetermined.

States Members have received all sorts of correspondence from all sides of the argument.

Needless to say, the opposition to it is noticeably the least articulate and logical, but we have had more against than for so far.

We have a perfect opportunity to take a huge step towards equality for a previously marginalised group. If this fails, it will be a sad day for Jersey.

So what can you do to help?

The simplest thing would be to contact States Members and lobby them to vote for "the P.102/2014 proposition on same-sex marriage". I've copied their email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can

They are YOUR States Members and you have every right to email them and ask them to vote in favour of this. Believe me, the people who are asking us to vote against it have not needed prompting on this point!

Write them an email asking them to vote for it. It can be as long or as short as you want. It will have an effect. States Members love to reject decent propositions with the nonsensical argument of "ah, well I've not had any Parishioners contact me asking me to support this!" so don't give them that amunition.

If you are free, you are also more than entitled to come and stand in the Royal Square as members are walking into the States building (from 8.30am - 9.30am) and try and stop them for a chat to lobby them. Obviously that sort of thing requires a bit of confidence, but some people have a real knack for that and can be very persuasive, so if that's your thing, give it a try.

Finally, States proceedings are open to the public. Most weeks the public gallery is completely empty, but sometimes a specific proposition can enthuse enough people to see it packed. The presence of the public in the room does have an effect. It means members are extra careful about what they say and know that they are dealing with an important subject matter.

So if you aren't working, come down and watch it. It's sure to be an enlightening event!


You have until Tuesday morning, so get emailing!!





Senators

p.routier@gov.je
p.ozouf@gov.je
a.breckon@gov.je
s.ferguson@gov.je
a.maclean@gov.je
i.lemarquand@gov.je
f.legresley@gov.je
i.gorst@gov.je
l.farnham@gov.je
p.bailhache@gov.je


Constables

s.crowcroft@gov.je
j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
l.norman@gov.je
j.refault@gov.je
d.mezbourian@gov.je
jg.gallichan@gov.je
p.rondel@gov.je
m.paddock@gov.je
s.pallett@gov.je
m.letroquer@gov.je
s.rennard@gov.je
j.lemaistre@gov.je

Deputies

r.duhamel@gov.je
r.leherissier@gov.je
ju.martin@gov.je
g.southern@gov.je
j.reed@gov.je
c.labey@gov.je
j.hilton@gov.je
j.lef@gov.je
a.pryke@gov.je
sp.power@gov.je
k.lewis@gov.je
m.tadier@gov.je
e.noel@gov.je
t.vallois@gov.je
mr.higgins@gov.je
a.green@gov.je
j.macon@gov.je
g.baudains@gov.je
p.ryan@gov.je
j.baker@gov.je
j.young@gov.je
s.pinel@gov.je
j.lebailly@gov.je
s.luce@gov.je
r.bryans@gov.je
k.moore2@gov.je
richard.rondel@gov.je
n.lecornu@gov.je
s.mezec@gov.je







28 January 2014

Reform Candidate for District 1, St Helier

 
Political Campaigner, Nick Le Cornu

St Helier No.1 By-Election

 Social reform campaigner to stand for Deputy


Havre des Pas resident, Nick Le Cornu, is to stand for election for Deputy in St Helier No 1 district.
Mr Le Cornu is a qualified English Solicitor, has practiced commercial law and litigation in the City of London. He now specialises in employment law and is currently assisting Union members with employment issues.

He is also the Secretary of the Jersey Human Rights Group, which campaigns for greater equality and anti-discrimination measures.
‘Social and Political reforms are now urgent,’ says Mr Le Cornu.
‘In recent years, we have seen a decline in the standard of living of ordinary islanders as the tax burden has shifted from corporations to personal taxation. We need to elect States Members who want to change this.’
‘My priorities will be:

-          To improve the quality and affordability of private and social rented accommodation.

-          To implement statutory maternity and paternity leave.

-          To oppose any suggestion of an increase in GST.

-          The fight for a true ‘living wage’.

-          End the overuse of zero-hour contracts.

-          Investing in Fort Regent, with improved access from Snow Hill – this is vital.

-          Managing population growth.

-          Fair representation for St Helier.’
 
Mr Le Cornu was also active in the Option A campaign, the option which St Helier
backed2:1 against 'option B' - which would have left St Helier greatly under-represented.