·         BCC employer survey and response to consultation highlights damaging effect of Modern Workplaces proposals on business

  

According to new figures released today (Sunday) by the British Chambers of Commerce, proposals from the government around flexible working, parental leave, and equal pay could have a damaging effect on UK businesses.

  

Commenting on the Modern Workplaces consultation which closes on Monday (8th August), David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

 

“Our economic recovery is far from secure, but the government continues to tinker with employment legislation, and propose significant new obligations for employers. At a time when this country is desperate to create jobs, it makes no sense to heap more employment legislation on businesses.   

“We support the government’s attempts to reduce the current stock of regulation. Yet Ministers cannot give with one hand and take away with the other by heaping new employment legislation on businesses. Both business and the economy will lose out if these proposals are enacted. The government should be reducing existing employment burdens and blocking new ones, not storing up future regulatory changes at the expense of business growth and jobs.”

  

Flexible parental leave:

 

·       In a BCC survey of over 5,800 business owners, three quarters expected the last set of regulatory changes to paternity leave introduced in April 2011 to be detrimental to their business. These regulations were far smaller in scope that the proposals for a flexible system of parental leave.   

“Business supports the principle of more flexible parental leave, but the current proposals are unworkable. The proposed new system will bring huge new costs and risks to businesses, and make it difficult for them plan their workforce. Increasing the net amount of time parents can take as paid leave, and inviting them to negotiate time off with employers from 2015 will create more confusion and costs for business owners. Many tell us they simply will not take on staff as a result.  

“Businesses are trying to get to grips with the changes to parental leave introduced earlier this year, yet the government is already consulting on a new system. Aren’t six changes to parental leave in a decade enough for businesses to contend with?”

  

Extension to the right to request flexible working to all: 

·       Two thirds of business owners expect the proposed extension of the right to request flexible working to all would be detrimental to their business

 

·       More than nine out of ten requests for flexible working are already approved by businesses, making additional regulation unnecessary

 

“Flexible working is already a reality in the UK business community. If conversations are already taking place in the workplace, and most requests for flexible working are accepted, additional regulation around this is entirely unnecessary. This would be the fourth extension to this legislation since its original introduction in 2002, and will dent business confidence.”

  Equal pay audits “If an organisation loses a gender pay case, under these proposals not only will they pay compensation to the claimant, and a possible fine to the Treasury, but they will also be forced to undergo a pay audit. The tribunal system is already chaotic, and this proposal will add further complexity and could encourage more weak and vexatious claims against employers.”