Employment reform - jam today not jam tomorrow
The announcement from Government on plans for employment reform will still leave smaller employers in North Wales wondering when they will be able to spend more time running their businesses and less worrying about the web of legal obligations which surrounds them. The Business Department has accepted the case for change although some parts of the announcement have a green feel - recycled.
Whilst reform is on the agenda, the pace and extent have to date left employers still waiting to see any real change to the way in which they currently do have to do business. This Government came into office and quickly acknowledged that complying with employment law cost business £1 billion a year and that successive Governments had not done enough to help employers in the past.
An employment law review was announced but given the likely pace of change - consultation, response, consultation on draft legislation, final implementation - employers can look forward to, possibly, some helpful changes in 2014 or 2015.
This pace of change is too slow for companies in North Wales. If Government is to make good on its promises and employers are to see a real difference to the burden of employment regulation (in the sense of a reduction, not increase), it must now move with Bolt-like speed - this is no longer a middle distance run. And the task of reducing the overall cost and burden of employment regulation has been made harder by this Government - the agency worker regulations, the abolition of the default retirement age, fines for employers who lose Employment Tribunal claims, and pay audits have all either been introduced or Government has announced a commitment to do so.
Flexible parental leave, new measures on flexible working and anto-enrolment are also be introduced. Manufacturers are supportive of workplace pensions and flexible working arrangements, but may be forgiven for wondering if there is a central Government strategy (or an industrial strategy) behind this patchwork of reforms, or whether Government departments continue to work in silos.
The cumulative effect of the changes this Government is committed to will increase the need for it to go further on employment law reform, be bolder, and stop what the Prime Minister called the dithering. North Wales employers already know what the problems are it's changes they need now, not within sight of the next general election.