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Press release May 4, 2005


RUTHLESS TV boss Sir Alan Sugar is well known for getting straight to the point, telling his potential protégés in The Apprentice: “You’re fired”.

But in the real world, few of today’s company bosses would even dare think about sacking an employee on the spot.

A survey by employment law specialists ELAS of small and medium sized businesses revealed that over 80 per cent of bosses would never sack an employee on the spot.

And even those prepared to emulate Sir Alan said their staff would have to do something extremely serious to warrant being told: “You’re fired.”

According to experts at ELAS, managers are right to think twice before dishing out the P45s at will.

“It might look good on TV but a lot has changed since Sir Alan’s day,” said senior employment lawyer John Peel.

“Any company should think long and hard before showing someone the door.

“Already, the law makes it hard for companies to sack workers at the drop of a hat and managers need to be aware of today’s employment laws before dealing with any type of staff problems."

For contestants of BBC2’s The Apprentice, which ends tonight (WED), a moment’s poor leadership or one weak sales pitch was enough for some of them to be shown the door.

But almost all business leaders accept that in the real world, an employee would have to perform particularly badly before being asked to clear their desks.

And even in the most extreme circumstances, 82 per cent of bosses would still carry out a full investigation before giving staff their marching orders.

“A hasty move like Sir Alan’s, while it sounds exciting, could prove very costly in the long run,” Mr Peel added.

For most bosses, the issues most likely to cause problems remain the bread-and-butter problems of absenteeism, staff sickness and poor timekeeping while only a handful (3 per cent) admitted to being most concerned by issues of discrimination or harassment.

Around half of the 700 companies polled said they had no set procedures in place to deal with employees falling pregnant, while a staggering 77 per cent had no provisions to deal with employees’ religious beliefs.

One in five firms admitted to monitoring employees’ emails.


ELAS questioned 700 small and medium sized (SME) businesses about a range of employment law issues. Among its findings were:

82 per cent said they would not dismiss an employee instantly in view of current employment legislation;
Managers’ biggest employment law issues were, in order of importance:
41 per cent of firms said their business was affected by absenteeism, with a quarter of those saying the problem was worse than it was five years ago;
20 per cent of companies said they monitored emails;
60 per cent of companies had no set procedures to deal with pregnancy.
85 per cent of bosses had no provisions in place to allow employees to follow their religious beliefs.
60 per cent had no compulsory retirement age with many employing staff aged 65 or more.
90 per cent of bosses admitted they had no idea that there are 42 opportunities for an employee to take their employer to tribunal in the first 12 months of service;
33 per cent of bosses knew of inter-office relationships within their company.


For more information or to interview ELAS employment lawyer John Peel call Chris Marritt at Mason Media on 0151 707 4514 or 07908 214950.

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