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Business perceptions of employment legislation are at odds with the actual impact of legislation according to a new government commissioned study published by Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson.

The Employer Perceptions and Impact of Employment Regulation study found that businesses that view employment law as burdensome often did so because of a lack of understanding of the law. Dismissal processes in particular were seen as stressful and costly with some employers going beyond legal requirements in the mistaken belief that such action was necessary.

Other report findings showed:

  • when recruiting staff, employers said their main focus was finding the best candidate with the desired education, experience and skills. Equality legislation, recruiting migrant workers and the Agency Workers Directive were all raised by employers as impacting recruitment practices;
  • employers who maintain formal working practices are more confident about compliance and do not see employment regulation as burdensome. Employers who work informally and only react to when a problem comes up are worried about litigation and compliance;
  • micro, small and medium sized businesses who had little internal HR expertise saw employment regulation as complex and inaccessible to people who lacked a background in law or HR; and
  • medium and large businesses were proactive in learning about legislation and keeping up to date with changes and use sources such as Direct.gov and Acas. Smaller businesses are more reactive and only sought information if a problem arose and say the media is their main source information about changes to legislation.


The Government has fleshed out the details of how it proposes to fulfill its commitment to make it easier for both parents to go out to work and still be fully involved in the lives of their children. It has published the Children and Families Bill, to implement the proposals.

Children and Families Bill

The Bill includes provision for a system of shared parental leave, and also extends the right to request flexible working to all employees.

The Government had sought views on its proposals as part of its Modern Workplaces consultation, which ran from May to August 2011.

It published its response to the consultation in November 2012, and announced its intention to legislate on the matter in 2013 - with the aim of introducing the changes to flexible working in 2014 and those for shared parental leave in 2015.

Shared parental leave

The reforms relating to shared parental leave are designed to give parents greater flexibility about how they ‘mix and match’ the care of their child.

Under the new provisions:

  • Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave as a day one right.
  • Mothers can choose to end their maternity leave after the initial two week recovery period; working parents can then decide how they want to share the remaining leave.
  • Fathers will gain a new right to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.
  • There will be a new statutory payment for parents on shared parental leave with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay.
  • Those who have adopted a child will be entitled to the same pay and leave as birth parents.

Flexible working

Flexible working has been criticised in the past because the right to request it was only available to parents and carers. The Government intends to remove this restriction by extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, which will allow them to manage their work alongside other commitments they might have.

The Government will also be removing the statutory procedure that employers currently have to follow when considering a flexible working request. Under the Bill, employers will be required to consider all requests in a reasonable manner.

Promoting equality

Business Minister Jo Swinson believes that the provisions of the Bill will be a positive move for equality in the workplace, as they will make it easier for working mothers to stay in the workforce, rather than having to drop out once they start a family.

She also claims that it will be good for business, as it will create a more motivated, flexible and talented workforce.

Overcoming cultural barriers

Ms Swinson acknowledges that there may be some cultural barriers to be overcome as employers and employees adjust to these changes, but believes that the workplace will soon adapt.

“Employers will soon get used to more men taking time off after their child is born and more mothers returning to work earlier, shattering the perception that it is mainly a woman’s role to stay at home and look after the child,” she explained. “These measures will really help our aim of ensuring more businesses are making best use of women’s talents throughout the organisation, from the boardroom to the shop floor.”

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.


Stress had a noticeable impact on businesses in 2012, according to more than two fifths (42%) of senior managers from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) surveyed for global insurer Zurich's latest quarterly SME Risk Index.

According to a fifth (19%) of SMEs surveyed, workforce absence levels have risen over the past two years, with 12% reporting more short-term stress-related absences of less than four weeks in the last year.

And when the results for small (10-49 employees) and medium-sized (50-249 employees) enterprises are looked at separately, absence levels for the past two years are up by 27% for small companies and 30% for medium ones,  suggesting that the impact of stress on absence could be an increasing worry as businesses become larger and more established.

A quarter (25%) of SMEs surveyed also reported lower morale amongst their employees due to workforce stress in 2012, with this again rising to 27% & 39% amongst small and medium businesses respectively.

However there is some optimism about the year ahead, with the prospect of a stronger economic environment (33%) and expansion of business in the UK (29%) being cited as the two biggest opportunities for 2013.

Women in their 50s earn nearly a fifth less than men of the same age - the widest gender pay gap of any age group - according to a recently published TUC analysis.

Acas has launched a consultation on a new Code of Practice on Settlement Agreements.

Abusive bosses who target employees with ridicule, public criticism, and the silent treatment not only have a detrimental effect on the employees they bully, but they negatively impact the work environment for the co-workers of those employees who suffer from “second-hand” or vicarious abusive supervision.

Fatherhood pay bonus revealed

Posted by on in Discrimination

Despite the many advances made towards the removal of the gender pay gap, the decision to have a child can still have a significant impact on the wages of parents.

Independent research has found that the Acas helpline has averted around 14,000 employment tribunals a year.

A government sponsored business study has found that employee satisfaction and commitment to their place of work has significantly increased despite the economic downturn.

The Government has announced a number of employment law changes, including the introduction and implementation of a new statutory code and guidance to encourage greater use of settlement agreements.

Deciding to have a child can have a negative impact on a woman’s career prospects, according to a report from the OECD.

Collective redundancy changes

Posted by on in Redundancy

Changes to collective redundancy rules have been announced by Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson.

Larger companies are narrowing the gap with small and medium sized firms (SMEs) in terms of the number of companies that have a female director, according to Experian’s BusinessIQ analysis.

As more than half (56%) of workers over 55 plan to work beyond the state retirement age, it is in employers interests to enable older people to stay in work for as long as possible, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

A recent survey has found that 60% of UK workers have been bullied by their boss, and three in ten (30%) workers claim that they are currently experiencing bullying at the office.

Apprenticeships are more beneficial to employers and employees than any other vocational training programme, according to employment experts from the University of Warwick.

Gender pay gap falls

Posted by on in Sex Discrimination

The gender pay gap fell to 9.6% in April 2012, according to new figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).

A new survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) shows that over half of employers (54%) plan to increase their permanent workforce in the next three months, while 49% see their permanent workforce growing in the long term.

Age has a significant impact on workplace relationships and people’s perceptions, new research from Canada Life Group Insurance has revealed, highlighting the importance of age-appropriate benefits in the workplace.

A taskforce set up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has helped the meat and poultry processing industry bring about marked improvements in the way both British and migrant agency workers are treated, according to a recent report.

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