The new Employment Bill published on 7 December 2007 implements tough new laws for rogue employers and repeals current statutory dispute resolution procedures.
The bill aims to toughen penalties for rogue employers who pay under the minimum wage. It also seeks to strengthen the powers of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, which will be given more investigative powers and access to unlimited fines for those who flout the law, as well as simplifying dispute resolution procedures.
Tom Hadley, director of external relations for the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC), said: “We welcome this bill as it aims to crack down on those employers and agencies that are breaking the rules. REC members abide by our code of professional practice as well as the law. It is not right for them to be undercut by agencies that are cutting corners and mistreating workers.”
The bill additionally responds to the Gibbons Review of dispute resolution by repealing the current statutory dispute resolution procedures. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has welcomed this move saying it would get “rid” of much of the “unnecessary” red tape in workplace grievance and disciplinary procedures.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “It will ensure that workers who have been caught out by the complicated process of applying to take a grievance to a tribunal and who have made minor technical mistakes along the way are no longer barred from getting their cases heard.”
The bill will also strengthen the rights of unions to exclude or expel far right activists, following Aslef’s landmark victory before the European Court of Human Rights in November.
The Forum of Private Business warns, however, that the bill should not be viewed as a reduction in the regulatory burden that companies take on when employing staff.