Plans To Cut Red Tape Must Balance Business Needs And Employee Protection

Lawyer Warns About Complexities of Changing UK And EU Legislation

21.03.2011

An employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell has welcomed the government’s plans to review a number of business regulations - but warned that ministers could face problems when addressing the issue.

It has been announced that the government intends to reconsider over 20,000 items currently in place, including an extension of flexible working rights, and also make smaller firms exempt from new legislation for up to three years.

An audit is expected to begin from next month, with measures in place in both the retail and manufacturing sectors set to be the first to come under the government’s microscope.

Ministers are reportedly hopeful that the changes can provide a boost to the economy and encourage more firms to take on new staff.

John Hayes, an Employment Partner at Irwin Mitchell in London, shared the view but warned that there may be some obstacles to the removal of certain measures.

He explained: “Any attempts to reduce red tape for small businesses should be welcomed because it is in line with current plans to reduce costs to businesses in these difficult times.  In addition, this proposal is consistent with the Government’s thinking behind the recent Consultation Paper on the reform of the Employment Tribunal system.

“It will be interesting to see which regulations the Government chooses to remove because a balance needs to be struck between fairness for businesses and protecting the rights of employees.”

Tom Flanagan, the new National Head of Employment for Irwin Mitchell, commented: “A significant proportion of UK employment law is based on EU directives and any attempt to exempt businesses from their effect runs the risk of the UK failing to meet its community obligations, and may be challenged by the unions and others.”
 
Mr Flanagan added: “This exercise may prove more difficult than it sounds because much of the employment law in the UK is the subject of primary legislation and this proposal would therefore require the consent of Parliament.  It may be easier in respect of certain regulations, but even here legal challenges could be brought by interested stakeholders.”