Firms failing to get to grips with employment laws

UK businesses are being held back by employers’ lack of
understanding of employment regulations, according to the findings of an
independent survey of employers and staff.

According to the new study, commissioned by mediation
service Acas, one in four (25 per cent) employers admitted they were not at all
or not very familiar with how recent changes in employment law affected them
and their staff, even though 95 per cent agreed that good communication of
employment rights and policies is good for business.

One in five (21 per cent) also said they didn’t feel they
had the information and expertise to deal effectively with workplace-related

This ‘rhetoric and reality’ gap also holds true for staff.
Ninety-three per cent said they believed good communication of employment
rights had a positive effect on the workplace. But one in three (31 per cent)
felt their bosses only dealt with workplace issues once a problem had already
become critical.

Rita Donaghy, chairwoman of Acas, said: "Looking at
this research and drawing on our extensive practical experience, it is clear
that businesses are missing out by not looking at employment relations issues
except when there is a problem.

“They know that good communications and effective employee
involvement are linked to business success and productivity, but many will need
to be more active in creating good employment relations."

The study also revealed more than three quarters (81 per
cent) of staff were not familiar or were only somewhat familiar with recent employment
legislation, and how it affects them.

Donaghy said: "Understanding employment rights and
workplace policies can be difficult for employers and employees, and that’s why
we give common sense, practical advice on employment issues.

“Our job is to help companies keep up with how legislation
affects them and to introduce effective policies and procedures to encourage
good relationships between workers and employers,” she added. “Acas’s help can
be invaluable, particularly where there is no dedicated human resource function
– typical of most small firms in the UK."

Quentin Reade

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