The government is confident that businesses in the private sector, particularly the smaller ones, are going to "lead this country out of recession"
It says this will be achieved by creating thousands of new jobs. But it is also realised that they are going to need a much more employer-friendly environment before they can do this.
A new announcement to help, plans for an ’Employers Charter’ has been unveiled. So what is it? More to the point, is it really worth having? The finer details will be confirmed over the next few months, but it is already clear that the Charter will focus on limiting employees’ rights. Part of this will involve doubling the length of service required before they can bring an unfair dismissal claim that is, from one to two years. However, there are a number of other areas that the government wants this Charter to cover.
One is the tribunal process. At the moment, employees don’t have to pay anything to issue a claim. So in order to deter those who are simply trying to make some easy money, there are plans to introduce a charge. It isn’t yet known if it will be a deposit that is refunded to successful claimants, or a non-returnable fee. But, either way, it should make them think twice.
Another idea involves reducing the amount of time during which employers are liable to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Currently, qualifying employees those who earn more than £97 per week are entitled to it from their fourth complete day of sickness absence for a maximum of 28 weeks. No new time period has been disclosed, but lowering it would certainly be a step in the right direction.
In April, SSP rises from £79.15 to £81.60 per week. But at the time of publication, the date this takes effect had not been confirmed. A further plan is to exempt "small businesses" from some employment legislation. Again, no specific details are given, but the government wants to cut all unnecessary red tape. So, watch this space.
While this type of Charter is a positive start to 2011 for employers, many pro-employee groups are up in arms at the mere thought of it. However, it is unlikely they will change anything as the government needs to focus on getting the economy moving.
We must wait for the final consultation paper to dissect the Charter further and see if it is just a load of hot air. As soon as it becomes available we will look at it very closely. In the meantime, all current employment law requirements still apply. Fingers crossed.
Gill Gill Brooks-Lonican, CEO