Employment legislation taxes bosses


Seven out of 10 UK entrepreneurs feel that a raft of employment legislation over the past few years has shifted the balance of power in the workplace too far in favour of the employee.

Six months since age discrimination was outlawed in the workplace – adding to a host of other government initiatives including paternity rights and sexual orientation - research by entrepreneur think tank The Tenon Forum suggests that employers are struggling with the escalating burden of legislation.

In particular, many entrepreneurs said that they are continuing to ask for candidates' ages on job application forms, putting themselves at potential risk of costly discrimination claims.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) intend to continue asking for interviewees' dates of birth, with the figure rising to almost a third (32 per cent) in London and the South East.

Tenon's research also reveals that owner-managed businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to find quality staff. Almost half of entrepreneurs questioned (45 per cent) find it difficult or very difficult to recruit the right people for their businesses.

The industries struggling most with recruitment, the research highlights, are the agriculture, mining and fishing sectors.

Particularly in demand are skilled manual workers, with 40 per cent of respondents saying this group is the hardest to recruit. Tenon Forum members singled out the decline of apprenticeships as a major reason for the lack of these workers.

Additionally, entrepreneurs are facing difficulties finding manual workers (19 per cent), senior managers (15 per cent) and middle managers (14 per cent).

Michaela Johns, Director of Business Services at Tenon, said while entrepreneurs are broadly in favour of measures which protect employees, they also feel under pressure from increasing workplace legislation.

"The Government must be wary of developing the kind of stringent employment laws which have strangled many businesses on the Continent and instead build a climate which enables enterprise to flourish," he added.