Areas of review
A summary of the projects within the employment law simplification review is as follows:
On 7 December 2006 DTI Secretary of State Alistair Darling launched a root and branch review of Government support for resolving disputes in the workplace. He appointed Michael Gibbons to review the options for simplifying and improving all aspects of employment dispute resolution, to make the system work better for employers and employees. Mr Gibbons will build on evidence which, in line with commitments in Success at Work, the DTI gathered last year about the effect of previous changes to the dispute resolution system. His review will look at all aspects of the system, including the current legal requirements, how employment tribunals work, and the scope for new initiatives to help resolve disputes at an earlier stage. More information......
All employees are entitled within 2 months of their start date to a statement of key terms (or "particulars") of their employment. The Administrative Burdens Measurement Exercise has estimated that this costs business £586m (£158 a go). We have already developed a tool on www.businesslink.gov.uk
to allow businesses to produce this statement at a fraction of this cost and without needing legal advice. Having consulted with businesses, we are looking to further improve this tool and to increase awareness of it. We are also aiming to increase awareness of the rules surrounding these statements, for example to avoid unnecessary duplication with provision of written contracts. We plan to have these changes implemented by the summer.
We will reduce administrative costs associated with redundancy by producing a tool on www.businesslink.gov.uk
to enable employers, without having to take expensive legal advice, to produce the mandatory written statement showing employees how their redundancy under the statutory scheme has been calculated (to complement the existing tool for calculating the payment). We are also improving the guidance to ensure it addresses issues raised by employers, e.g. clarification on consultation requirements when a business is proposing to make collective contract variation that will require a dismissal and re-engagement of employees. We plan to have these changes implemented by the summer.
We want to provide clear and simple guidance and tools to business on their employment rights and responsibilities generally, so that they can quickly find out what their responsibilities are, be confident that they are meeting them, and to minimise their costs in doing so. We have heard explicitly from a wide variety of businesses that clearer, more widely used guidance and tools have the potential to deliver substantial savings. The Administrative Burdens Measurement Exercise also suggests that in many cases businesses are incurring greater costs than would seem necessary to fulfill their information obligations (e.g. in relation to flexible working and working time). There is much good guidance available, but too often it is too complicated, too long, and too hard to find. We are therefore moving to a "one-stop-shop" for business focused advice on www.businesslink.gov.uk
; working to improve the content and delivery of that guidance; and considering ways to improve awareness and management of it. As part of this work we aim to produce a short employment standard as a summary check-list for businesses of their employment responsibilities, linked to succinct guidance on each element. We are also clarifying the guidance on the right to time off for public duties.
We are examining the scope to reduce some of the administrative requirements on employment agencies relating to the provision of information about and to hirers, where the duration of assignments is short. We are also working to increase awareness and understanding of requirements, as research by PWC suggests that business is spending much more money than is necessary to comply with the law.
We are developing an interactive tool, which will be available on the www.businesslink.gov.uk
website, to give clarity on individuals' employment status - and hence what rights do or don't apply to them. Discussions with business and other stakeholders revealed a clear desire for this.
We are examining the case for allowing non-postal balloting by trade unions (e.g. for elections to senior positions or for industrial action). We have also asked trade unions to submit other ideas to simplify the complex structure of trade union law.
We have revamped all government website advice on maternity leave and pay, to remove duplication and to ensure that it is streamlined, clear, consistent and clearly targeted. We have also produced a summary leaflet for both employers and employees to set out their rights and responsibilities in a clear and succinct way.
We have abolished a regulation requiring employers to provide a written agreement for the hourly rates of the National Minimum Wage to apply in certain circumstances where the worker is taking part in accredited training. The Administrative Burdens Measurement Exercise suggests that this should save business over £5m.
We believe that these proposals can deliver important reductions in business costs, increase in confidence, and greater compliance - boosting growth, encouraging employment, and ensuring that more people get the rights to which they are entitled.