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Workers still prey to unfair dismissal

01 January 2000
Workers still prey to unfair dismissal

by Nigel Packer

Many workers in the hotel and catering sector will remain unprotected from unfair dismissal even after the Government's proposed Fairness At Work legislation, a new report warns.

The Low Pay Network says nearly half of those in the sector who encounter problems with employers have been in their jobs less than 12 months. As a result they will still not be able to claim unfair dismissal when the length-of-employment threshold for making such claims is reduced from two years to one.

The Here Today - Sacked Tomorrow report says 33% of hotel and catering staff who have recently contacted agencies for advice on employment rights had less than six months' service in their job, while a further 13% had less than one year's service.

The report's author, Susan Kirkham, argues that "workers should have the right to seek redress from day one of their employment," and highlights a number of cases in which catering staff have suffered unfair treatment at the hand of employers.

One chef earning £3 an hour was dismissed after three months, without notice or warnings, for "not being suitable" at a time when there was a fall-off in trade; and in another case a catering assistant was sacked after being off work sick for three days.

Catering and hotel work is also identified as being among the lowest-paid occupations, with an average hourly rate "well below £3.50". One waitress who contacted the Low Pay Network was earning £12.50 for an eight-hour shift, according to the report.

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