A radical overhaul of burdensome employment legislation is desperately needed to encourage firms to recruit and thereby help stimulate the economy. But is the Government listening?
The sheer scale of employment legislation, including the risk of heavy penalties for unfair dismissal, has been of increasing concern to many employers. There are even known “professionals” who make a living, in fact a very good living, purely from persistently taking employers or potential employers to court on unfair dismissal claims. Is it surprising that micro and small businesses are often reluctant to employ staff? That reticence is another nail in the coffin in terms of increasing unemployment and a stagnating economy. Small businesses have the potential to make a significant positive difference to both but will not do so while the stranglehold of legislation remains so tight.
So is the Government listening? Well, it certainly appears it is although whether any action they take goes far enough remains to be seen.
At the beginning of the year, after much lobbying by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and a encouraging speech by Small Business Minister Mark Prisk at the FSB’s Annual Conference in Liverpool in March, a moratorium was put in place by the Government for micro firms for all new domestic legislation for the next three years. This seemingly positive move was diluted by removing some large regulatory changes from the moratorium including the removal of the default retirement age.
Even worse, the majority of new legislation originates from Brussels and the Government must therefore push harder to ensure any steps the Government takes to reduce burdensome legislation is mirrored in the EU. Recent EU legislation, for example, includes the Agency Workers Directive, Parental Leave Directive and Pregnant Workers Directive.
Now the good news!
Unfair dismissal qualifying period extended to two years.
From 1st April 2012 employees will need two years continuous employment before they can claim unfair dismissal against their employer, although there are exceptions including unlawful discrimination. Additionally, it is proposed that from April 2013 that a fee structure will be in place for anyone lodging an unfair dismissal tribunal claim.
The Red Tape Challenge
From 3rd to 19th October the focus on the Red Tape Challenge is on employment-related law. Both employers and employees are being encouraged to submit their views on employment related policies and regulations. The Government says it is committed to protecting employee’s rights but wants to make the system fairer for both parties (employees and employers), simplified and more workable. If you want to see changes please join the debate NOW by visiting the Red Tape Challenge website www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk
You might also like to view the government discussion paper ‘Flexible, Effective, Fair: promoting economic growth through a strong and efficient labour market’ which sets out the Government’s vision for a strong and efficient labour market.