Rather handily, the OECD complies a set of international indicators of employee protection, the latest version of which was revised in September 2010, using 2008 data. The survey looks at “the procedures and costs involved in dismissing individuals or groups of workers and the procedures involved in hiring workers on fixed-term or temporary work agency contracts”.
What does it show?
First, that protection for employees in these respects in the UK is already close to the lowest of any country in the OECD survey, only slightly higher than Canada or the USA. All of the much touted BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) offer employees greater protection that the UK does, for example.
Second, and particularly pertinent to the current British debate over whether the levels of employee rights are putting off firms from creating more new jobs, the UK is also in a very similar position on the specific measure of regulation for temporary forms of employment:
Overall national surveys such as this can miss some of the nuances in individual sectors or niches (e.g. regulation of employment rights for micro-sized start up companies are rather lost in the mix), but the overall picture is clear. Nick and Vince were right.