The Chamber of Commerce responds to Vince Cable's announcement on employment regulation reductions.
Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has long called for Government to streamline and simplify employment regulation in order to reduce its costly and onerous burden on business. Our members have repeatedly told us that aspects of employment regulation are complex and time consuming and, along with the British Chambers of Commerce, we have urged Government to tackle this unnecessary red tape. We welcome the package of measures set out by Vince Cable yesterday as part of the Government’s Plan for Growth and Red Tape Challenge, which propose significant reductions in employment regulation.
The Government will publish a consultation in the New Year on protected conversations, allowing employers to discuss issues such as retirement or poor performance with their staff, without this subsequently being used in a tribunal case. This is significant. It is important that employers be able to openly discuss their future plans with their employees and resolve issues around performance and conflict more efficiently. The Government has also set out plans to reform the tribunal system, so that all claims go before ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to be offered pre-claim conciliation before going to a tribunal. In addition, from April 2012 the qualification period for unfair dismissal will be raised from one to two years. Tribunals are costly and time consuming and the Chamber welcomes efforts to make these procedures a last resort and considers the idea of a ‘rapid resolution’ scheme a helpful development.
The Government is also consulting on simplifying compromise agreements, which allow employers and employees to settle a negotiated financial sum to end employment contracts, where working relationships have broken down to an irretrievable status. This development would give employers greater ability to avoid long, protracted disputes and would equally strike an appropriate balance in the protection of both employer and employee.
The Government plans to merge, simplify or scrap more than 70 regulations, including merging 17 National Minimum Wage regulations into one set, creating a universally portable CRB check that can be viewed online, and simplifying the Transfer of Undertakings rules. The Chamber of Commerce urges Government to follow up on these promises; to comprehensively simplify employment regulations to give the British labour market greater flexibility and reduce these barriers to growth.
Chamber Head of Policy Steven Leigh commented:
“The Chambers of Commerce network has consistently lobbied Government on the issue of burdensome employment regulations. We are pleased to see some real developments on the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ but urge Government to deliver progress on these promises. It is imperative that the Government support growth, and we believe that more can be done to help businesses take on new staff. We have called on Government to extend the National Insurance Contribution holiday so that more firms can use this scheme in order to grow their business and employ more staff.”