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New Clause—(Safeguarding Of Employment)

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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(1) If the employer of any person liable to be called upon to serve for a period of whole-time service terminates his employment without his consent before the date on which he is required to present himself in accordance with an enlistment notice, and does so solely or mainly by reason of any duties or liabilities which that person is, or may become, liable to perform or discharge by reason of his being, or being liable to be, called upon to serve for that term, the employer shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds; and the court by which he is convicted may order him to pay to the person whose employment has been terminated, as compensation for any loss suffered or likely to - be suffered by him by reason of the termination, a sum not exceeding an amount equal to five weeks' remuneration at the rate at which his remuneration was last payable to him by the employer

(2) If the employment of any person is terminated by his employer solely or mainly by reason of any duties or liabilities which he is, or may become, liable to perform or discharge in pursuance of this Act during his term of part-time service, that person shall be entitled to recover from his employer as compensation for any loss suffered or likely to be suffered by him by reason of the termination of his employment a sum not exceeding an amount equal to five weeks' remuneration at the rate at which his remuneration was last payable to him by the employer; and in case of dispute he may, within such time as may be prescribed by regulations under section sixteen of the Reinstatement Act, apply to a Reinstatement Committee for the determination of his right to recover compensation, and if that right is established to the satisfaction of the Committee they shall make an order for the payment by the employer to the applicant of such sum as they consider him to be entitled to recover.

(3) If in any proceedings under this section the court or the committee, as the case may be, is of opinion that there is reasonable cause to believe that the duties or liabilities afore- said caused or contributed to the termination of the employment, the employment shall be deemed to have been terminated by reason of those duties or liabilities unless the employer proves that the termination was for a reason unconnected therewith.

(4) The following provisions of the Reinstatement Act shall, with the necessary modifications, apply for the purposes of subsection (2) of this section as they apply for the purposes of that Act, that is to say:

section eight (which relates to Reinstatement Committees, umpires and deputy umpires);
section ten (which relates to appeals from those Committees), except so much thereof as defines the expression "the employer";
subsection (2) of section eleven (which relates to the recovery of sums ordered to be paid by those Committees); subsection (4) of section eleven (which relates to the institution of proceedings by authorised officers);
section sixteen (which relates to regulations);
subsections (3) and (4) of section seventeen (which relate to evidence);
section eighteen (which relates to the priority of debts);
section nineteen (which relates to expenses), and the definition of "the Minister" in section twenty.—[Mr. Isaacs.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I have to submit to the Committee the second of the Government Clauses which it is now agreed are to be the last to be taken this evening. It is a very long Clause, and is the redraft of one originally circulated. Therefore, I propose, if it meets with the convenience of the Committee, to give a brief statement of its contents; but if required I shall be ready to give a more detailed explanation of the several Subsections. Briefly, Subsection (1) makes it an offence for an employer to dismiss a worker solely or mainly because the man is liable to be called up for whole-time service. The penalty is £50, and the employer also may be ordered to compensate the employee up to five weeks' pay. There will be no offence if the employment is terminated by mutual consent. This is on the same lines as that which obtains at present. Subsection (2) gives similar compensation to any employee dismissed because of his obligation for part-time service. In this case, disputes are to be settled by the reinstatement committees, just as reinstatement disputes are at present. In this Clause, relating to part-time service, there is no penal sanction against the employer, apart from his liability for compensation. Subsection (3) says that where there is reasonable cause to believe that an employee's liability or duties were the reason for his dismissal, the onus will be on the employer to prove the contrary. That is not so onerous on the employer as was proposed in the original Clause 13. Subsection (4) applies the new circumstances to the present reinstatement provisions, which have worked with complete smoothness and satisfaction to all parties. The only substantial change is that the minimum of 26 weeks' reinstatement is reduced to 13 weeks, if the previous employment was not more than 13 weeks. That is a very brief summary, but I shall be glad to give further explanations should any hon. Member desire them.

I want to ask the Minister for a further explanation of why these two systems have been introduced. I do not gather why, in the first instance, the matter should go to the courts, and in the second instance, to the reinstatement committees. We have always paid deference to the courts and I would like to know why two systems are included. There is just one other point. I understand the rule of law today on matters of compensation is that where the employee is receiving remuneration, the compensation is adjusted in relation to the remuneration received. I would like to know if that still stands under this Clause?

So far as compensation is concerned, there is no change in the existing rules at all. With regard to the first, we have had to consider the fact that when a man goes away for 12 months on fulltime service it may be argued that when he comes back it is a reinstatement. But when he is away for a matter of two or three weeks, then the Clause makes arrangements for safeguarding his con tract of employment. It is considered re-employment, if you can appreciate the difference between reinstatement and reemployment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Committee report Progress; and ask leave to sit again.—[ Mr. R. J. Taylor.]

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.