Too many cooks could leave Euro legislation in the soup

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The HR community needs to put pressure on the Government to become a muchmore effective legislator, otherwise there will be a risk of widespreadnon-compliance from employers in the futureIt is understood that the Department of Trade and Industry has recentlyasked the CBI and TUC to discuss how the EU directive on information andconsultation should be implemented in the UK. This process of involving the‘social partners’ in drafting employment law is driven by the need for theGovernment to reach political solutions to implementing legislation. It was, ofcourse, always thus. However, as the number of European-led changes toemployment law has grown, this apparent failure to prioritise practical andworkable legislation above the politically expedient has become of increasingconcern to organisations and HR professionals left to grapple with the finalregulations. Employers need to be encouraged and supported in the pursuit of good peoplemanagement and development by a sensible legal framework that balances theirrights and responsibilities with those of their employees. Such a frameworkcannot be shaped by partisan but loud voices; it requires the views of allstakeholders to be taken into account. It also demands that the detail oflegislation – which can cost employers, employees and the taxpayer dearly inemployment tribunal cases – be ironed out. As European directives are implemented through regulations, which can onlybe accepted or rejected by Parliament, EU-driven legislation is not scrutinisedin the House of Commons or the Lords. This means the Government needs to beparticularly scrupulous in drafting legislation to implement directives. It islikely that this process would benefit from a great deal of scenario planning,giving a much more detailed consideration to the consequences of legislationthan a typical consultation exercise allow. A process of this kind is likely to be considerably more useful than theregulatory impact assessments (RIA) that are now required to accompany allproposals for new law. These assessments focus on the financial costs ofregulation, with the resulting sums of little or no use to employers covered bythe proposals. The administration costs of implementing the Fixed Term EmployeesRegulations 2002 would be approximately £2m, stated the RIA in the consultationdocument on this issue. This was based on an estimate of 20,000 affectedemployers paying for two days’ work by a personnel clerk – paid an average of£250 a week – to adjust the payroll system. I suspect there are few HRpractitioners, who, on hearing about the new law, threw a copy of theregulations on the desk of the personnel clerk and told them to change payrollaccordingly. As the UK is obliged to implement European directives, RIAs presumably havelittle effect on the policy-makers’ decisions, particularly if the Governmentfollows its stated aim of not ‘goldplating’ directives. Where regulationstemming from Europe is concerned, government departments’ time might be betterspent looking at the real effects of law in the workplace, rather than makingguesstimates of the financial costs. Spurred on by the Better Regulation Task Force, the DTI has started to takemore seriously the difficulty faced by employers in implementing new employmentlaw. It is helpful that two set dates each year will be introduced for newregulation, but this is a very small starting point. But it is more importantthat the Government focuses on a coherent approach to ensure that any sideeffects of new regulation are not more problematic than the issue theregulation is designed to address. There is also a need for more timely guidance for employers on whatdirectives might mean. There is little excuse for Government departments thatcopy out European legislation into domestic law, and then leave employmenttribunals to interpret the law, at the expense of employers and employees. For our part, the HR community must continue to put pressure on governmentdepartments to develop legislation that makes sense for businesses and theemployment relationship. Otherwise, we risk more employers giving up the fightaltogether, and a resulting move to a non-compliance culture. By Diane Sinclair, CIPD lead advisor on public policy Too many cooks could leave Euro legislation in the soupOn 22 Apr 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *