Business Taskforce Recommends Changes to Employment Law
7 November 2013 by Lawrence Adams
A Government taskforce has made recommendations in a recent report title “Cut EU red tape”. The report is part of a wider Government agenda which aims to curb and cut the number of new EU regulations coming into force. The aim is to allow for greater competition between big business and smaller “micro-enterprises”. It is the latter that this new report aims to protect.
The changes it recommends include:
- Removing the need for so called micro-enterprises to write down risk assessments. This is currently a requirement of the Health and Safety Framework Directive. The report recommends that EU member states should have the option toexempt small business from this requirement, freeing up valuable business time and money. The report is careful to emphasise that this should only be the case for “low risk” businesses with the decision on what is “low risk” being left to national governments for interpretation.
- Proposals for an increased maternity leave period should be dropped. The European Commission is currently considering a proposed amendment to the Pregnant Workers Directive which came into force in 1996. The proposals recommend that pregnant workers should receive 20 weeks’ fully paid leave. The Taskforce argues that the current system is fair enough and that the proposed amendments would present an unnecessary financial burden to business.
- Complex rules on sub-contracting are being considered which should not be made mandatory. This recommendation comes from proposed changes in the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive which would, if implemented, make companies liable for sub-contractors’ failure to pay wages to foreign workers. Businesses would therefore need to be insured against this risk. Coupled with the requirement for extra paperwork, these new rules would place a significant burden on multi-national business.
- Changes should be made to the working time directive. The report recommends that the individual’s ability to opt-out of the 48 hour working week should be maintained and that the law in this area should be simplified. Areas that present issues include ‘on-call time’ and ‘compensatory rest’, both of which are subject to recent case law.
- Provide greater flexibility in the Agency Workers Directive. The report makes general recommendations that the Agency Workers directive is not flexible enough to cater for small businesses and is deterring a large number of companies from utilising these workers.
- Employers should be allowed greater flexibility in harmonising employees terms following a transfer of staff between companies. The taskforce recommends that provisions surrounding the transfer of employees between businesses should be made more flexible. It seems that the Business Taskforce would like the ability to make changes to employees terms and conditions, especially where employees are transferring in a less favourable direction. It is argued that this would simplify payroll as well as improving fairness for all employees of a business.
The above recommendations represent just a handful of the changes suggested across a variety of areas, not just Employment regulations. If you want to read the entire report, it is available here.
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