The Institute of Directors (IOD) has called for employment law changes to support UK businesses, including the revival of controversial proposals for a ‘compensated no fault dismissal’ law.
Statutory employment law is not the problem. The real problem is the body of case law that has built up in British and European courts. This makes simple principles immeasurably complicated. Holidays, for example, should be easy for any employer to sort out. They are not. Civil servants and courts have colluded to make some situations so complicated (or vague) that only the courts themselves can sort them out.
The business body, which represents 35,000 company directors, has asked for a Bill including the ‘pro-employer’ rule to be highlighted in the Queen’s Speech today.
Further rule changes the IOD would like to see outlined by her majesty include a three-month notice period for employees who do not want to return from maternity leave and a no strike law for strategically important workforces to clamp down on militant trade unions.
Entering an unnecessary battle with the Trade Unions may well be counter productive giving them every cause to be militant.
The IOD also argued that ‘gold plated’ EU directives need to be reassessed and their ensuing bureaucracy stripped back dramatically.
‘Compensated no fault dismissal’ was first proposed by businessman Adrian Beecroft in 2011 in his report for the government which prompted a widespread outcry from unions.
It is tempting to think it would “work”, and it might. More likely, I think, is that we will just have further complications in the system. Important changes, such as deposits and a more proactive approach to awarding costs, have been made recently. Practical Lawyer magazine suggests that tribunals are likely to move away from a general “no costs” presumption towards the county court system of “loser pays”. Such changes should be given time to bed down.
Many of his ideas, including no-fault dismissal, also dubbed ‘fire at will’, have since been dropped by the government and strongly criticised by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
However, commenting on the IOD’s call for employment law reforms, the body’s director general Simon Walker, said: “This is probably the government’s last chance in this parliament to announce new legislation to boost businesses and the economy. Nearly half of businesses think that regulation is holding them back.
So more than half of businesses don’t think Regulation holds them back. According to some sources only America has a less regulated employment regime than the UK. Other countries do not seem to be being held back by regulations.
Ministers should seize this opportunity to tackle the issue head on.”
In my view there are much more important fish to fry. For example the UK economy would benefit immeasurably for making quality business management education and training more widely available.