Yorkshire Survey Reveals Concerns Over Employment Law Changes

Irwin Mitchell Releases New Research

21.03.2011

A leading employment lawyer says a recent survey of Yorkshire businesses is further proof that bosses are becoming increasing concerned by the multitude of recent and upcoming changes to legislation.

The Employment Law 2011 survey, by law firm Irwin Mitchell showed that the majority of businesses are concerned about upcoming changes and that in particular businesses are confused by the default retirement age (DRA) legislation.

The survey, conducted over a number of seminars presented by Irwin Mitchell for business and HR leaders across Yorkshire, revealed:

• 84 per cent of businesses support the introduction of an Employment Tribunal fee in order to reduce the number of perceived spurious claims;

• 59 per cent are concerned that there will be an increase in the number of Employment Tribunal claims in 2011;

• Over half of businesses (54 per cent) believe there will be a rise in the number of Employment Tribunal claims as a result of the removal of the default retirement age.

• Just 19 per cent believe that new employment legislation planned for this year will have a positive impact on their businesses with 32 per cent saying it will have a negative effect.

Liesel Whitfield from the Employment law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Businesses in Yorkshire are clearly worried about the volume of changes in employment law over the past few years and the impact that this will have in relation to Tribunals. There is also a concern over how much businesses know about the upcoming changes - which could land them in hot water if they fail to comply.

“An overwhelming majority of businesses support the introduction of a Tribunal fee. While the current ‘no-costs’ rule is central to the tribunal system and the need for it to be accessible, fees - which can be forfeited if a claim is unsuccessful - are theoretically a good idea.

“The difficulty is that most Claimants in an Employment Tribunal are out of work, and there is a natural concern that Claimants may be unable to pay a fee if it is set too high. Conversely, if the fee is too low, it will not have the deterrent effect that employers are hoping for.”

The survey also found that 63 per cent of business leaders believe that the government has not clearly communicated the changes to DRA. Whitfield said: “There are mixed feelings about whether their businesses will be affected by DRA this year, but the communication of the law is a factor in these results.

“Almost half (49 per cent) of businesses do not agree the default retirement age should be abolished and over half (56 per cent) believe it is being phased out too quickly. Businesses are worried enough coming out of the recession without having to deal with new legislation. They need to ensure they are fully aware of the changes to avoid being caught out.”