The National Staff Dismissal Register will be a searchable database of employees who have been dismissed for ‘dishonesty’ or have resigned while dismissal proceedings are ongoing - see the article on Personnel Today. I’m amazed this hasn’t generated more headlines. It’s been developed in consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office, so one assumes the data protection angle will be looked after, and I’d guess there will be a dispute resolution service to remove disputed details. I’ve not seen complete details of the scheme, but some immediate issues that spring to mind:

  • If use of the database is widespread, finding another job after dismissal will be near impossible; this could seriously affect an unfairly dismissed employee’s chance of mitigating his loss pending the unfair dismissal finding (at which one assumes the dismissal will be removed from the system). This will mean higher compensatory awards, and potentially arguments over damage to reputation and so on.
  • What if I’m being investigated for an allegation that constitutes dishonesty, but I resign for other reasons? What if I’ve been constructively dismissed? What if the allegations of dishonesty were victimisation following a discrimination claim? The disputes reaching the database operators could well trespass into findings best left for a tribunal – and if the procedures don’t exist then serious injustice could result.
  • Will there be any compulsion for those employers signed up to the system to report their employees? A lot of investigations and disciplinary procedures end with a resignation, a cessation of the procedure, and the employer simply refusing to respond to subsequent reference requests. An employee in that situation still has reasonable chances of employment, but if his former employer is obliged to put him on the database then his chances are shot.

I can well understand why there are concerns. A TUC representative stated to the BBC:

“The TUC is seriously concerned that this register can only lead to people being shut out from the job market by an employer who falsely accuses them of misconduct or sacks them because they bear them a grudge. Individuals would be treated as criminals, even though the police have never been contacted.

“The Criminal Records Bureau was set up to assist employers to make safe appointments when recruiting staff to work with vulnerable groups. The CRB already provides appropriate and properly regulated protection for employers. Under the new register, an employee may not be aware they have been blacklisted or have any right to appeal.”

…and at the moment those very genuine concerns aren’t answered.

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