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UK - DPM calls for more frank discussions and less red tape

26 October 2011

Yesterday's speech by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Nick Clegg in which he called for a more rational and realistic debate on employment regulation has been welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Arguing for a greater focus on the opportunity to boost growth by focusing on raising standards of leadership and management in UK firms, rather than a less productive focus on employment regulation which is not restrictive by international standards, Mike Emmott, CIPD Employee Relations Policy Adviser, said "the calm, pragmatic tone of Nick Clegg's speech to small businesses on red-tape and regulation today is welcome. His assertion that excessive and unnecessary regulation is unhelpful, but that some regulations are positive and worthwhile, is supported by evidence and is a welcome objective contribution to a debate often dominated by political interventions."

"The current calls to curtail or undermine employment regulation are a distraction from the debate we ought to be having about how to get economic growth so as to support our flagging tax base.  Many of the suggestions by some organisations representing business are simply opportunistic, knee-jerk efforts playing political tunes that were out-of-date last time round and have even less force or relevance now."
"The idea that business is seriously afflicted by having to implement employment regulation is at best a matter of perception, with a limited research base. At worst it is a refusal to accept that we live in a developed twenty-first century economy that is heavily dependent on the skills and commitment of its workforce."  
"In particular, the argument that the way to get Britain back to work is to water down rights to maternity and paternity leave, to limit the right to request flexible working, and to make it easier to dismiss workers without good cause is highly questionable. None of these would make any meaningful difference to unemployment." 
"They would be more likely to harm the prospects of UK plc by fostering precisely the kind of crude and out-dated attitudes to employment relationships that will put employees off from 'going the extra mile'."
"Let's get away from the political rhetoric and pay more attention to how to get the UK economy moving again in the real world. A concerted government focus on encouraging better leadership and management in firms based in or operating in the UK would make a greater contribution to delivering growth through a re-energised and productive workforce than an unproductive and circular debate about the rights and wrongs of regulation."

Among other things, Nick Clegg said firms should be free to have frank discussions with underperforming staff, regardless of the employee's age.

The government proposal brought claims that companies could use the new law to force out older staff to save money.
TUC union General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said "it would give a licence to bad employers to bully and intimidate staff."


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