CBI survey highlights worries over employment laws
According to a survey published by the Confederation of British Industry in September 1999, four out of five UK companies feel that the administrative burden caused by employment legislation has risen over the past year. The working time Regulations were identified as having the biggest impact.
In a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), published on 13 September 1999 and coinciding with the start of the annual conference of the Trades Union Congress (UK9909128N), 85% of firms questioned thought that the administrative burden caused by employment legislation has increased over the past year, 17% believing that it had "increased a lot". The impact of the EU working time Directive is reported to be "causing easily the most headaches".
Firms were asked about their views on the impact of three recent changes in employment law: the working time Regulations (UK9810154F), the reduction in the qualifying period for protection against unfair dismissal (UK9905104N), and the introduction of the national minimum wage (UK9904196F):
- 52% of respondents said that the working time Regulations were having a negative impact while only 9% said that they were positive, with the remaining 39% reporting no change. Some 79% of firms said that they had taken some sort of action in response to the regulations. Of these, 68% said that some employees had signed individual opt-outs. Nearly two-thirds of firms had introduced new record-keeping requirements;
- reducing the unfair dismissal qualifying period was seen as negative by 42% of respondents with only 6% welcoming the change; and
- the vast majority of firms - 86% - reported that introduction of the national minimum wage had no impact on their organisation.
Among legislative changes in the pipeline, two areas were reported to be causing most concern to respondents - the increase in the limit on compensation for unfair dismissal and the introduction of parental leave (UK9905103F). In both cases, 72% of firms believed that the impact of the new measures would be negative. The survey identified enhanced maternity leave rights, time off for family emergencies and the trade union recognition provisions (UK9903189F) as other areas of concern to firms.
Commenting on the survey results, Adair Turner, the CBI's director-general, said: "It is the most ill-thought-out legislation - working time being the best example - that is causing the biggest headaches. Where implementation has been got right, as with the minimum wage, the negative impact has been much less. That is why it is so crucial that the government remains firm on introducing some important amendments to the working time Regulations" (UK9907117N).