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UK — CBI calls for action to make Britain the place to work

21 June 2010

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has today unveiled a package of measures to ensure Britain's labour market is best placed to sustain businesses and jobs during the recovery.

In a new report called Making Britain the Place to Work, the UK's leading business group highlights the importance of the UK's flexible labour market and the key role it played in minimising job losses during the recession.

On the regulation front, the CBI wants the Government to introduce a sustainable employment test to ensure that any future employment laws help, rather than hinder, the creation of new jobs.

The CBI is calling for changes to rules around ballots to ensure that strikes can only go ahead if 40% of the balloted workforce support it, as well as a simple majority of those voting. This would prevent strikes going ahead based on a relatively small turnout of particularly active members.

In addition, the consultation period for collective redundancies should be shortened from 90 days to 30 days to reduce uncertainty for staff and allow employers to reshape their workforces swiftly to respond to significant falls in demand.

John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said "as we enter a period of fragile recovery, we need to do everything we can to create a jobs market that works for Britain, and to ensure Britain is the place to work."

"To position the UK for growth, any new employment legislation must pass a simple test of whether it will encourage job creation."

"We also need to look at changing the rules around industrial action. Strikes cause misery. They prevent ordinary people going about their daily lives, whether it is getting to work or getting the kids to school."

"Strikes also cost the economy dearly and undermine our efforts to help rebuild the economy. That is why we believe the bar needs to be raised, so strike action is not possible unless 40% of the workforce has actively voted to withdraw its labour."

Looking at the proposals to encourage greater flexibility in the workplace in more detail, the CBI recognises that boosting participation rates and tackling under-representation will play a key role in fostering economic growth. The CBI's proposals include:

Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees, while ensuring employers have enough time to adapt and are given clear guidance on how to prioritise requests.

Retaining the individual opt-out from the maximum 48-hour week under the Working Time Directive, which allows staff to choose to work longer hours, for example to earn extra money to support their families.

Working with the Government to introduce greater flexibility in the sharing of caring responsibilities between parents.

Making the right to request flexible retirement more effective, rather than simply abolishing the default retirement age when there is not a practical alternative in place. This risks creating problems in the workplace.

The CBI's measures for positioning the UK for recovery and promoting growth are focused on making sure employment legislation helps firms sustain and create jobs, as well as enabling them to take swift action to respond to changes in demand that will protect the business and job prospects in the longer-term.
To read the full report please click here



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