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‘Government is implementing employment law changes too quickly’ warns CIPD


A major new survey, undertaken jointly by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and employment law specialists Hammond Suddards, warns the Government to think harder about how they enact new employment legislation. The survey of more than 5000 CIPD members, drawn from every sector of the economy, shows that employers are fed up with having to implement hastily drafted legislation, at short notice and with inadequate guidance.

Of the raft of employment legislation that has been implemented recently, over two thirds (68%) of respondents believed that the government had not given employers adequate time to respond during the process of public consultation. Nearly three-quarters (73%) felt that there had been inadequate time to implement new legislation. Many respondents cited the rushing of legislation through the consultation and implementation phases as a reason for their inability to implement specific pieces of legislation.

Mike Emmott, CIPD adviser on employee relations, comments, "It is quite clear from the survey that many employers have found new employment legislation burdensome to implement. A major problem is the lack of clear guidance about what they are required to do. A large minority of respondents (43%) believes the quality of Government guidance notes is poor, describing it as ambiguous, unclear and lacking in practical examples.

He continues, "A large number of our members are having to spend significant amounts of time struggling to understand, interpret and apply new legislation, rather than focusing on their primary role of supporting the business and implementing more effective people management and development practices. Smaller firms - those employing fewer than 100 people - have been particularly hard hit, but many large companies also have problems."

Sue Nickson, Head of Employment Law at Hammond Suddards, which also operates the CIPD Advisory Helpline for its 105,000 members says, "One of the most worrying findings is that fewer than one half of respondents believed that they fully met their obligations under the new legislation.

This has been one of the main drivers behind us establishing an in-house training service to cover the concerns raised by employers and to assist with advising on the implementation of new legislation.

"The Helpline takes a huge number of calls each week from personnel professionals struggling to keep pace. There seems to be a consensus from all sides that the Government has introduced changes too quickly with poor and inadequate guidance."

The survey asks specifically about the impact of new employee rights on parental leave. Most respondents were clear that parental leave would become a major issue only if it was paid, and that such payment should be the responsibility of either individuals themselves or the Government.

Many employers found that the number of "grey areas" and the complexity of the regulations had made for difficulties in understanding what was required.

As Emmott says, "Our survey shows that significant changes are needed in the way the government consults on and implements new employment legislation. Employers think the consultation period should be at least 3 to 4 months, with a further 3 to 6 months before the legislation comes into force, so that employers can manage the process of implementation effectively.

Employers generally accept that a floor of employment rights is desirable. They are however concerned about having to implement legislation which has not been properly discussed or thought through. It is time the government recognised that a cosy chat with the TUC and CBI is no longer enough. A wider and more thoroughgoing consultation process is needed to produce legislation that can be implemented in the workplace. This is something the CIPD is committed to achieving."


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