Government should take the time to listen

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Government should take the time to listenOn 1 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article WithLabour once again in Government, we ask what hopes and fears employers have forthe legislation affecting them. What did Labour get right on employment lawduring ITS first term and where did IT go wrong? Compiled by Sarah-Jane North Peter Reid Head of Peter Reid Consulting, consultancy on UK and European employmentlegislation My hope is quite simple – that the Government will allow more time between decidingnew rules and their date for implementation, to enable HR managers to planahead properly for the changes. What I fear is the lack of joined-up thinkingon employment issues and the lack of a coherent ideology. But my real fear is of the Euro-paranoia among employers. Employers worryabout overly intrusive legislation from Brussels and automatically see it as achallenge rather than an opportunity for change. They automatically assume thatall European legislation is negative. We could learn a lot from Europe and other countries, but we are growing avery narrow outlook and only look in a very limited way at what is happening incountries such as the US. For example, we talk up the free market policies inthe US, ignoring the impact and cost consequences of their anti-discriminationlegislation. We need to address and better understand how others handle issues such asmass redundancies. It is not good enough to simply say that it is hard to makepeople redundant in Germany and easy in the UK. HR needs to become far moresophisticated in managing difficult issues and come up with far betterarguments for their actions than they have in the past. We analysed the election manifestos of the main political parties andstrikingly, none of them were prepared to commit themselves to anything. Labour had clear proposals on the link between family and working life butthis will be developed on the social security front rather than within theemployment field. More pertinent to Labour’s second term is the fact that there are just asmany outstanding EU directives to be implemented in the UK, six to be precise,as there were when they came to power in 1997. And all six are to beimplemented in the next six years. This makes it even more urgent that they focuson and understand that companies need to plan for implementation and developstrategies. Robbie GilbertChief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Statute and PracticeOur focus is very much on thetranslation of Labour’s mandate into legislation. They had considerableproblems in their first term with regards to effective consultation. It wasalso a problem with implementing EU directives into UK law. Typically they havehad three years to translate directives into UK law but we have not beengetting the opportunity for consultation that would make the legislationpractical. Such has been the case with the Working Time directive, through nowto the Burden of Proof directive. In their manifesto Labour promised to review the impact andworking of major pieces of law within three years of implementation and toimprove the quality of regulation impact assessments. They have suggested thepossible introduction of external audits on regulation impact assessments andwe would welcome that because these have become laughably inadequate. Nick IslesSpokesman for the Industrial SocietyWe need sensible regulation andregulation that is delivered by a more refined and sophisticated process thanwe have seen of late. We have a prime opportunity to do that with the directiveon consultation, to put in place a way of doing business that helps companiesto do business. We need regulation that is sensitive, that has a “made inBritain” feel and that employers feel happy about. The Industrial society hasalways been a champion of sensible regulation, but what we have had of late isa sterile debate, a networked animosity between the social partners. We need aprocess of delivering a regulatory system that people feel is working. There is no under-swell of objection from the majority ofemployers to regulation, just to the lack of time they have to deal with it.There is a the need for data on how employers are delivering in areas wherethere is no regulation so that we can accurately target regulation in the future.Gerwyn DaviesSpokesman for the CIPDWe conducted a survey of our membersat the time of the election and the clear message that came from that was”enough is enough”. The majority do not have any quibbles with theregulations implemented to date, but they are saying we now need a period ofconsolidation. Our main hope for Labour’s second term is that any workplacelegislation is minimised.In terms of the prominent issues of equal pay and ageism, thereare European directives to be followed in the coming few years and we feel thatLabour has done a good job of raising general awareness in these areas,postponing legislation until a suitable time. We are involved with the Governmentin the Age Positive campaign to raise awareness and alert employers to theissues of ageism.If we had a criticism it would be that consultation times, insome areas, have not been long enough to get satisfactory responses fromorganisations such as ourselves.John MonksTUC president Labour achieved much for people atwork in their first term but I hope that in their second term they follow theapproach of the minimum wage and low pay commissions, rather than theovercomplicated Working Time regulations’ precedent. The new commission on work-life balance, to be chaired byGeorge Bain, is a welcome extension of the social partnership approach. I hopenow all sides work to accept the new European Information and Consultationdirective and that employers, unions and government will work together to makethis an effective reality, but within UK traditions. Comments are closed. last_img

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