Sussex business ‘chief’ criticises Government plans

THE chief executive of Sussex Enterprise has criticised a number of Government plans dealing with employment.

Commenting on the consultation launched by the Government yesterday on plans to introduce a new system of flexible parental leave, Mark Froud said: “Our economic recovery is far from secure, but ministers are yet again tinkering with employment legislation. These kinds of laws create huge uncertainty for employers, and prevent them from taking on more staff. Last week, the government won praise from business when it said it would streamline some costly employment regulations. But this announcement shows they are giving with one hand and taking with the other.

“At a time when the government is looking to reduce unemployment, making further changes to employment legislation is absurd. We have to ask the government what level of growth they expect to see from businesses dealing with yet more regulation.”

On flexible parental leave:

“For months, the government has promised a war on red tape and a focus on creating the right conditions for business growth. Yet the proposed changes to parental leave are at odds with the growth agenda.

“Lengthening the amount of time parents can take as paid leave, and inviting them to negotiate time off with employers, just creates more confusion and costs for business owners. The proposals look to allow more flexible parental leave, but will lead to uncertainty and expose employers to endless appeals, legal challenges and grievances. While businesses try to get to grips with the changes to parental leave introduced just last month, the government is already consulting on a new system. When will it stop?”

On the right to request flexible working:

“The proposal to extend the right to request flexible working would replace current regulations with a code of practice, but we question whether this will make any real difference. In fact, it could just cause more confusion.”

On equal pay audits:

“Introducing automatic equal pay audits will not deliver real progress on equal pay. A bureaucratic and one-size-fits-all approach will mean many companies will be forced to go through a pointless exercise.”

On amending Working Time regulations:

“Plans to amend Working Time regulations to reflect recent European rulings will only cause more confusion for employers, while creating extra costs. The Government could have waited for more clarity from Brussels, where this issue is currently being debated, and avoided an immediate impact on business confidence. Instead, their actions could mean two sets of confusing changes rather than one.”