Government hopes of cutting the number of employment tribunal cases could come to nothing, UK employers believe. According to a survey by IRS Employment Review, published by LexisNexis IRS, more than four out of five senior human resource managers (83.4%) think that proposals set out in the Employment Bill to overhaul dispute procedures will either have no impact on the number of Employment Tribunal (ET) cases or will lead to an increase.
Among the 300-plus HR directors in the study, one in three (34.7%) thought plans to introduce a right for working parents of young children to ask for flexible working arrangements would lead to an increase in ET cases, while one in five (22.4%) thought moves to give fixed-term workers equal pay with permanent employees will have the same effect.
The findings are published in the current issue of IRS Employment Review.
The survey also shows that most employers are more concerned with coping with legal issues thrown up by their own workforce’s actions than with implementing any specific piece of legislation. Six out of ten employers (61%) reported that dealing with disciplinary or grievance cases had taken up most of their time and energy over the past 12 months.
Commenting on these implications, employment lawyer, Richard Lister of Lewis Silkin said: “I can’t remember a time when the pace of change was so fast. There is a real employment law boom and I think a lot of employers see legislation coming out on a monthly basis and are bewildered. Stress at work is also giving rise to litigation: “We are seeing a lot of disability discrimination claims that have to do with stress. There are many ways that stress can be brought into litigation, and I don’t think it’s an issue that’s going to go away.”
Other key findings include:
58% of respondents cited data protection legislation as the corporate administration issue that affected the majority of HR professionals. Redundancies also figured prominently – concerning two out of five respondents.
The top 10 future legal issues (based on aggregated totals – see survey details) are:
changes to terms and conditions
part-time or flexible working
internal disciplinary/grievance cases
Employment Tribunal cases
Parental leave/time off for dependents
Working Time Regulations/working hours.
IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail explained the findings: “Since the Labour government took office in 1997, there has been a sharp increase in the volume of new legislation affecting employers. The steady flow of labour laws stems in part from the government’s own social agenda, which has produced new requirements such as the National Minimum Wage and reintroduced the right to trade union recognition. But the biggest impact on organisations has come from Europe and this shows no sign of being reduced in the future. With the recent EU Directive on works councils just passed, employers will have to adjust to ensuring that their staff are consulted within a legally-defined framework. HR professionals must be diligent to ensure that their practices comply with so much changing legislation.”