Perhaps it is just coincidence, but the DTI has done a brilliant job this
week in proving just why it needs to improve the way it develops employment
legislation. One of the key points Personnel Today has been trying to make in
our campaign with employers’ body the EFSP is that the Government is rushing
through the consultation process without giving employers anything like enough
time to provide a considered response.
Last week, as if to ram the point home for us, the DTI released a
consultation document on union recognition with a deadline of responses of
under six weeks. Many of the relevant bodies had barely had a chance to begin
looking at the consultation document by the end of last week – effectively only
giving them five weeks to respond. Five weeks to decide a position on one of
the biggest shake-ups in industrial relations in over a decade? This is
patently not good enough.
Why is the Government in such a rush? The answer frequently given is that
they have to implement European directives within a certain timeframe, but CBI
advisers retort that a extending deadlines by a few crucial extra weeks would
be perfectly feasible.
The UK has an exemplary record in meeting these deadlines compared to some
of our European neighbours. And it should not be forgotten that domestic
governments are given two years overall to implement directives.
Our argument has been that when there is not proper consultation
poorly-drafted legislation will be produced. Once again we have been proved
right as last week a range of HR professionals have picked holes in the
part-time work directive.
The problems range from the definition of part-time through to providing
employee benefits pro-rata – a host of issues that would be a nightmare for HR
departments to deal with if the rules ever reached the statute book in this
And the range of support – from HRspecialists to MPs – for our campaigns
confirms we have touched a nerve.
The bottom line is this – breakneck consultation will produce legislation
that breaks. The experience of last week proves only that the Government still
cannot grasp this simple truth.