Employment relations minister Pat McFadden has refused to rule out further employment legislation this year.
He told HR professionals last week: “It’s not about whether there will be more or less employment law, it is about getting the right employment law.”
This summer has already seen the government extend flexible working rights, boost agency worker protection, strengthen equality laws, and give staff the right to request time off for training.
Business leaders have insisted enough is enough – and business secretary John Hutton said in May that the government had “successfully completed” its mission to update workplace law.
However, trade unions were angered by these comments, and McFadden – who chairs the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum – appears to have backtracked.
He told delegates at a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development conference in Westminster last week that any further changes were likely to be based on the right-to-request model.
“We are looking to encourage more effective engagement between employers and workers,” he said.
“The right-to-request model has been successful and now we want to keep to those twin aims of proper rights for people at work and the necessary flexibility to encourage businesses to invest in the UK, take risks and hire people,” he added.
However, McFadden insisted there would be no return to the industrial relations laws of the 1970s, despite speculation last week.
Reports suggested trade unions were teeing-up a list of demands for greater workplace and collective bargaining rights in return for their continued support as the Labour Party goes through a tough patch.
But McFadden said: “We are not going to return to the industrial relations of the 1970s – we’ve come a long way since those days.”