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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Clegg promises yet more employment law change this autumn

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The Coalition Government plans to introduce a “major package” of employment law changes this autumn, which includes “significant reforms” to the tribunal system.

This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told a meeting of small business leaders gathered at the Shoreditch offices of Holition, which creates augmented reality marketing software, that the aim of implementing the changes was simply to boost economic growth.
 
The Government’s Red Tape Challenge, which invited businesses and members of the public to review current regulations, had already resulted in the simplification or scrapping of 220 rules in the retail and hospitality industry and this so-called “attack on red tape” had saved British business some £3 billion, Clegg attested.
 
This autumn would see Business Secretary Vince Cable and Employment Relations Minister Ed Davey propose a raft of new “smart regulation”, however.
 
In order to try and ensure that workplace disputes were resolved before they ended up at an employment tribunal, employers would be expected to involve the conciliation service ACAS from an early stage. The Coalition Government was also evaluating whether to introduce the concept of “protected conversations”.
 
“Employers tell us they’re afraid to have frank discussions with their staff for fear of those exchanges being used against them unfairly, should a dispute end up at tribunal. We want to give them the confidence to be open about performance, about retirement with their employees, which is better for everyone,” Clegg said.
 
But there would also be a “major shake-up of business inspection” by bodies ranging from the Health & Safety Executive, HM Revenue & Customs and the Environment Agency. The number of authorities that businesses had to deal with in future would be rationalised and inspections limited to two a year.
 
The idea was to make sure that “yes, they intervene when necessary, they offer advice and support but, otherwise, they let you get on with it. They will need to respect the Regulator’s Compliance Code, which says regulators must think about and encourage economic growth, and they will have to make sure they aren’t breathing down your necks”, Clegg said.
 
 
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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