Labour third term set to be radical on employment

2005

British employers can expect to see "radical and far-reaching" employment-related legislation over the next five years from Tony Blair's third-term Labour Government, a survey has predicted.

Whether or not Blair is supplanted as Prime Minister by Chancellor Gordon Brown, it is likely that significant employment-related legislation will reach the statute book during the course of Labour's third term, according to employment specialist IRS.

Laws to outlaw age discrimination, which will come into effect at the end of next year, will have a wide ranging impact on almost every area of working life and there will be major changes in policies on training, employee sickness and pensions, it said.

Report author Mark Crail said: "Since 1997 we have seen the introduction of the minimum wage, new rights to trade union recognition, the maximum working week and legal back for at least four weeks' paid holiday."

He added: "It's sometimes easy to forget quite how much has changed. Looking ahead to the next five years, we believe employers will have to deal with a tranche of further regulation, including a statutory right to paid bank holidays and possibly tighter control over the use of agency temps.

"But some things may become easier. Labour's training agenda is a real attempt to deal with deep-seated skills problems in the UK, and the creation of a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights may help to unify and simplify discrimination law."

The organisation has also surveyed HR professionals to see what they want from the Government over the next five years.

Eight out of ten said they wanted the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to issue good practice advice and tools for employers, rather than simply carrying out investigations and legal enforcement.

Three out of four employers agreed that "employers should play a role in tackling discrimination in the workplace because it is the right thing to do" but only one in four monitored grievance and disciplinary cases.

Nearly one in three said that if the European draft directive on temporary and agency workers was approved, they would use fewer temps, while one in four was concerned at the possible cost.

More than eight in 10 wanted HR to respond more to the needs of their business, while 86 per cent say the professional needed to get a voice at board level as a priority.