News, Politics

Tories review employment law

Tories review employment law
May 13th, 2011
Author: Jeff Taylor

The chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that the government is set to review UK employment law with the aim of allowing businesses to have a more ‘flexible’ relationship with their employees.


Mr Osborne said that this was needed in order to help employers suffering financial difficulties and would therefore help support private sector growth, which in turn could then soak up any unemployment caused by the public sector cuts says a report in the Independent.

The chancellor is looking at imposing a cap on the awards that are handed out to employees for cases of such things as discrimination and abuse on the grounds of gender or race as well as making it easier got  employees to be sacked. The government is also looking at a fee structure for employment tribunals to prevent vexatious claims being brought against employers. This obviously puts the employer, both private and public sector, more firmly on the driving seat.

Other measures such as reducing the consultation period for collective redundancies from 90 days to 30 days will put the unions on the back foot.

And then there is the intention of simplifying the administration of the minimum wage.

The Chancellor told the Institute of Directors, said the Independent, that the unions are “the forces of stagnation” who “will try to stand in the way of the forces of enterprise” and said that he will ‘publish a “detailed timetable for the wholesale review of employment law in this country”, to tackle the “costly impact of our employment laws and regulations”‘.

The Shadow business secretary John Denham, said that this showed that George Osborne’s only idea on the subject of stimulating growth was to cut pay and pensions and make life more insecure for workers.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary said that this was just a political attack dressed up as a growth policy and that life would be even harder for vulnerable workers.

But one wonders whether the government will find the EU upsetting their apple cart by inserting its elongated proboscis into these proposals, after all many of these employment laws are enshrined in EU law.

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One Response to “Tories review employment law”

  1. Phil Grimm says:

    I applaud the sentiment of the announcement. You are right that his hands will be tied by law derived from Europe. Employment tribunals are all about lawyers extracting cash from insurers; the outcome rarely justifies the cost.

    My problem is with the image of Osborne. He is seen as a toff and therefore not of the real world and therefore doing the bidding of the rich to screw the little guy who relies on union membership for strength in numbers. The unions expect trouble from Osborne more than previous generations of Tories. That may be unfair on him but that’s how it seems. He’s perceived as the man behind the curtain as Gordon Brown was as Chancellor, but perhaps less obviously driven and ambitious. Brown famously had a private pact with Blair but I doubt that George felt any need.

    I really do support greater employment flexibility but I suspect the perception is that Osborne will seek greater flexibility for employers only.

    I dislike the tone of both John Denham and Brendan Barber. Their language (insecure and vulnerable) raises the fear level of those people they are meant to support. The best thing Osborne could do to increase employment security is reverse Alistair Darling’s “tax on jobs” (increased Employers’ National Insurance rates) but he can’t afford it.

    We are all in this mess together. People need to realise that standards of living will fall so holding on to a job at a lower rate is better than losing employment. Individually, people need to take greater responsibility for making themselves as employable as possible. A flexible worker, ie, one that can adapt to the needs of the employer and his customers is more valuable and more deserving of 2-way flexibility and more likely to be kept on. Some would call it brown nosing.