New bombshell for UK employers

Aug 29 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Is the UK government about to put a bombshell under the country's employers by granting all parents the right work part-time and choose their employment hours as well as an entitlement to paid sick leave when their children are ill?

That appears to be exactly what is under consideration as ministers attempt to woo the votes of working mothers with further concessions that will be greeted with fury by business leaders and employers' organisations.

According to an interview with Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman in the Independent of Sunday, the new plans will be unveiled prior to the Labour Party's annual conference next month.

As Independent points out, while the taxpayer will bear the cost of most of the proposed changes, longer leave could cause serious disruption and will inevitably mean extra red tape.

They might have added that such plans, if enacted, will provide private-sector employers with even more compelling reasons not to employ women at all - not to mention exacerbate the growing gulf between those with children Ė who enjoy a raft of workplace 'rights' - and those without Ė who end up covering for absent colleagues.

Matthew Knowles, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "There are already 28 Acts of Parliament on employment legislation in law.

"To force another one through really would be stretching the patience of small firms. On average, they have four employees, so to have one of those off for a day or for six months means a quarter of the workforce is missing.

"Small employers know that a happy workforce is an effective one and already bend over backwards to help their employees out. When the dead hand of government comes in, all it does is create unnecessary antagonism."

The Independent | Revolution for women at work: Labour's new blueprint to improve work-life balance