DTI must do better on drafting legislation

The burning issue this week is clear. Nearly 3,500 personnel practitioners are fed up with hastily drafted employment legislation which is drawn up at short notice and has inadequate official to go with it.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has surveyed 5,000 of its members and the results back Personnel Today’s campaign for better government regulation all the way.

In February we set out the objectives of our joint campaign with the Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice and called for:

• More time for employers to respond to consultation

• Long enough lead time to put regulations into effect

• Clear guidance to be issued with the regulations

The CIPD findings back these aims to the hilt. Their research shows that:

• 68 per cent felt that the Government had not given employers adequate time to respond

• 73 per cent felt that there had been inadequate time to implement new legislation

• 43 per cent felt that the quality of Government guidance notes is poor.

The CIPD’s Mike Emmott is quite right to say that a lot of members are having to spend significant amounts of time struggling to understand and interpret new legislation rather than focusing on their main role of supporting the business.

The DTI disputes that a meeting with the Secretary of State Stephen Byers was ever promised with employers’ body the EFSP. The EFSP says it was. Certainly a meeting took place to air concerns but only with DTI officials which were relayed to Byers.

This is not good enough. No less than 3,500 HR practitioners are complaining about poor consultation and lack of time to implement new legislation – surely they are a force to be reckoned with. Why isn’t the DTI taking employer concerns seriously?

A wider and more ongoing consultation is needed with ministers. It is time the Government recognised that a cosy chat with the TUC and the CBI is no longer enough. And the CIPD should be knocking on Byers’ door as soon as possible. Otherwise implementing the European directive on fixed-term work – which has a deadline of June 2001 – will fall at the first hurdle.

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