Over seven in ten HR professionals in the UK (73%) believe that employment is excessively regulated, according to a new research study by national law firm Dickinson Dees.
The HR Legal Tracker 2010 also reveals that over half of respondents (55%) believe that simplifying employment law must be top of the agenda for the next government, with a further 35% calling for Government to restore the balance of employment legislation in favour of the employer.
Of those that had settled an employment claim against them, almost 70% of HR professionals cited cost as the main reason for settlement and over 90% stated cost or time as the contributing factor towards settlement of a claim.
James Wilders, a partner in the Employment team at Dickinson Dees LLP explained:
“It is a common misconception that more laws mean greater protection. Legislation has become increasingly complicated and ambiguous for employers. There comes a point when the added benefit is questionable and must be outweighed by the burden which it places on business. This is especially the case for small and medium sized employers who may not have a specialist, in-house HR function."
He continued: “In the past five years there has been a continuous flow of new employment laws passed ranging from the new Agency Workers Regulations, the Age Discrimination Regulations to European case law on rights to accrue holidays even while on long term sick leave. New employment legislation is estimated to have added £70 billion to costs for businesses over the last decade. The classic example of the trend towards legislation for the sake of legislation is that of the statutory dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures which were introduced in 2004 and abandoned in 2009, leaving behind a trail of expensive cases standing as a testament to legislation that created utter chaos without serving any useful purpose."
In addition, 47% of those polled said they believe that discrimination/family friendly rights legislation is particularly overregulated.
James elaborated: “The Equality Act, the majority of which will come into effect from October, should be about consolidating and streamlining employment legislation, but instead has been piecemeal and is likely to create additional confusion, rather than clarity, for employers."
“Whichever party forms the next government, the message is clear – stop unduly burdening employers with overcomplicated legislation. Such excessive legislation often leads to more paperwork than protection, and this is particularly punitive to smaller, entrepreneurial employers.”