College managers have been known to admit privately that they may budget for unfair dismissal payouts when deciding to sack staff. With a maximum compensation of Pounds 12,000 at an industrial tribunal, the costs to a college of unfair dismissal are negligible. This is set to change. Under new workers' rights legislation introduced in Parliament last week, the compensation limit for unfair dismissal will rise to Pounds 50,000.
After much wrangling between employers and the trade unions, the government hailed its Employment Relations Bill as an historic addition to workplace rights. As well as raising the cap on tribunal payments, the bill also brings a series of "fairness at work" measures. These include: n Banning the use of employer blacklists of trade union activists
* Extending full-time staff legal rights to part-timers
* The right for staff to take unpaid time off for domestic emergencies
* The right to have trade unions recognised by employers if 40 per cent of workers vote for recognition.
The measures could become law by the summer.