Define discussion

Nick Clegg announced plans yesterday for a new law that will allow protected conversations between bosses and employees. This is a small step in the right direction. My firm advises employers all the time who are genuinely afraid of having frank discussions with their staff about retirement in case what they say is used against them in an employment tribunal claim based on age discrimination.

However, the risk in trying to legislate for “protected discussions” is that the government will do more harm than good. The government is supposed to be reducing red tape and simplifying employment law. If the concept of a “protected discussion” turns out to be as difficult to define as a “protected disclosure” in the law relating to whistle-blowing, nothing constructive will have been achieved.

Ronnie Fox, principal, Fox Lawyers