CBI warns Chancellor of delicate jobs balance

CBI chief Digby Jones
is to warn Chancellor Gordon Brown that rises in the cost of employing people
"risk getting out of control", endangering plans to achieve full

He will use a speech in London
tonight (Monday) to announce CBI estimates suggesting that in 2003 the
Government will have added another £5bn a year to the cost of employing people.

The latest major rise will come on
April 6 when firms face annual extra costs of £4bn in national insurance and
£300m for parental employment rights.

The figure will reach £5bn in
December after the minimum wage rises by 30 pence to £4.50 and the Government
introduces EU laws on discrimination.

Companies are still bracing
themselves for further EU legislation on informing and consulting workers,
employing temporary agency staff and age discrimination.

They also face the threat of an
extension to the EU Working Time Directive, which the Chancellor pledged to
resist in a recent address on European economic reform.

The CBI move comes as Mr Brown
prepares to give a speech on productivity at the British Chambers of Commerce
conference in London (Monday 31 March).

Digby Jones said: "It is
heartening to see the Chancellor campaigning for labour flexibility but firms
want meaningful action not just warm words. If his aim is to achieve full
employment then there really must be no increase in taxation and no more labour
market regulation.”

By Ben Willmott


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