24th March 2011
Yesterday’s Budget, coupled with the accompanying “Plan for Growth” contained a number of unexpected provisions in addition to those that businesses were anticipating.
- Businesses with fewer than 10 employees will be exempt from new domestic legislation for 3 years from 1st April 2011.
- The right to request time off for training will not apply to businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
- The extension of the right to request flexible working for parents with children aged 17 (planned for April 2011) will be repealed – meaning that the right will continue to only apply to parents of children under the age of 17.
In addition the Government announced that it will:
- consult about either moving the current May Day bank holiday to St Georges Day (in England), or alternatively removing the May Day holiday and creating a new ‘Trafalgar Day’ or ‘UK Day’ bank holiday during the October half term.
- review employers’ liability under the Equality Act 2010 for the harassment of employees by third parties (such as clients and customers) – including consultation on removing the requirement that employers take reasonable steps to prevent persistent harassment of staff by third parties.
- not bring into force the dual discrimination provisions under the Equality Act 2010.
- launch a review of regulations with the aim of removing those that are excessively burdensome.
- Seek to revise burdensome EU Directives, including the European Parliament’s position on the Pregnant Workers Directive (which proposes to create the right to 20 weeks’ maternity leave and two weeks’ paternity leave on full pay).
It seems that one intention behind the proposals is the desire to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible workforce in Europe. Most of the changes will not require significant change on the part of employers – and undoubtedly business will welcome the intention to create a workplace which has the lowest burden of employment regulation in the EU.
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