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Employers ‘unconvinced’ on value of new regulations

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Firms have offered a mixed picture on the value to their businesses of a range of employment regulations.

A survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that many employers are supportive of the national minimum wage and various equality rules, but have doubts about the value of other employment regulations.

The CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook ‘Employer Focus’, which polled 800 employers, found that the minimum wage still had continued backing and that there is enthusiasm for other pieces of employee legislation introduced since 1997.

More than four in ten employers (45 per cent) believed that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the Age Discrimination Regulations (42 per cent) and the Data Protection Act (42 per cent) have been helpful.

However, other legislation is regarded in a less positive light.

Around a quarter of UK organisations offer no paid paternity leave above the statutory minimum, and there are concerns about the effects of the EU Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Regulations.

Just 40 per cent of organisations offer working fathers two weeks’ pay at or near the full rate of pay, while around a quarter (24 per cent) offer no paid paternity leave beyond the 2-week statutory level.

Of the recent innovations in employment regulation, the survey showed that employers view the Working Time Regulations (28 per cent) and the Agency Worker Regulations (32 per cent), which is due to come into effect in October 2011, as representing the greatest hindrance to business.

Only 28 per cent and 13 per cent respectively saw the rules as helpful.

Mike Emmott, the CIPD’s employee relations adviser, said: “While employers are supportive of the national minimum wage and a plethora of equality rights, they are yet to be convinced about the merits of the Agency Workers Directive and the Working Time Directive.

“The CIPD believes that the Working Time Regulations in particular have negligible value in limiting unhealthy workplace behaviour. We are, therefore, calling for its repeal in the context of the review currently being undertaken by the European Commission.”

Mr Emmott went on to say that the more intractable challenge to both the government and employers lies in encouraging more working fathers to take up their entitlements to paid paternity leave.

He continued: “If flexible parental leave is going to become a reality, we need a step-change in the reward policies of UK organisations that encourages more fathers to take their statutory rights. This is something that will only be achieved through cultural change – and legislation is emphatically not the answer. The new government will have to think imaginatively if it is to nudge and lead this change.”