Employers regret decision to change Employment Bill

Part
of the proposed Employment Bill has been changed after fears that one of its
sections could hinder workers taking disputes to employment tribunals.

The
measures, called ‘compromise agreements’, would have allowed disputes to be
finalised by the blanket settlement of a range of possible claims. But unions
argued that employees might be forced to give up future claims against their
employers in exchange for improved terms and conditions.

Trade
and industry minister, Lord Sainsbury, told the House of Lords the Government
did not want any changes that would adversely affect employee rights, saying
workers should not be subjected to any bullying or pressure from employers.

Steve
Lorber, a partner at employment lawyers Lewis Silkin, said the measures would
have been good for business and finds it depressing that the Government dropped
the plans.

"Peers
seem to be concerned that the proposed law would mean unscrupulous employers
could ask employees to give up all their rights when they start work, but I
doubt the proposal would have that effect,” he said. “Even if it did, the
position could have been sorted out simply by tweaking the drafting.

“No
doubt, as more and more legal grounds for discrimination claims are introduced,
employees will be obliged to settle non-existing claims in these new areas as
well – making it even more important that we resolve this nonsensical situation
with the introduction of blanket but fair compromise agreements."

By Quentin Reade

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