SMEs not as trigger happy as Sir Alan

A survey by employment law specialists ELAS shows that more than four-fifths of owner/managers would never utter Sir Alan Sugar's dramatic catchphrase, 'you're fired'.

In BBC 2’s The Apprentice Sugar dismisses unlucky contenders for relatively minor misdemeanours, but even those who would consider sacking on the spot said their staff would have to do something extremely serious to warrant it. In extreme cases, 82% would still conduct a full investigation before giving an employee their marching orders.

“It might look good on TV but a lot has changed since Sir Alan’s day,” said senior employment lawyer John Peel at ELAS. “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 most bosses, the issues most likely to cause problems remain the perennial problems of absenteeism, staff sickness and poor timekeeping. Perhaps surprisingly, just 3% admit to being most concerned by issues of discrimination or harassment.

More than half of the 700 companies polled said they had no set procedures in place to deal with employees falling pregnant, while three-quarters had no provisions to deal with employees’ religious beliefs. A fifth confessed to monitoring staff emails, while a third knew of romantic relationships going on in the workplace.

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