Give firms more time to consult over laws

Personnel Today launches a campaign today to gain more say for employers on
the introduction of employment law.

In association with the Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice, we are
calling for the Government to pay more heed to the people who have to implement
the laws.

We want employers to be involved at every stage of the legislative process,
to be given more time to respond to consultations and long enough lead time to
put regulations into effect.

We also want clear guidance issued with the regulations and consultation
documents that are easy to understand.

Over the past 18 months employers have had to cope with a succession of
hasty consultations and rushed-in laws, such as Working Time. The last straw
was the consultation for part-time work, issued on 17 January with only six
weeks to respond.

In an open letter to Stephen Byers published in Personnel Today last week,
EFSP chief executive Robbie Gilbert said, "Lack of consultation with
employers is blighting the success of the regulations."

Despite the growing impatience of employers, the DTI this week denied there
is a problem with the time allowed for consultation and implementation.

The recent part-time working consultation document was not badly prepared
but "intentionally short to improve readability".

But employers disagreed. Jewson HR director Tom Flemming said, "The
deadlines for part-time working were so short it makes you sceptical about
whether they are really interested."

Steve Miller, HR manager at Midland Auto Trader, said the original Working
Time consultation was "ridiculously quick".

Gilbert says the changes sought by the campaign will help everyone.
"What we are asking of ministers is perfectly practicable, in contrast to
some of the regulations we have been getting lately.

By Dominique Hammond

Campaign objectives

Four things we want from ministers:

1 Talk and listen to the people who have got to make the law work — people
management practitioners and their legal advisers.

2 Involve practitioners and their advisers at each important stage of the
legislative process – the statement of policy objectives, the drafting of
regulations, the drawing up of guidance and practice notes on implementation.

3 Give longer lead times – let practitioners and their advisers have final
regulations published and available at least two months before they come into

4 Provide prompt advice on implementation – this needs to be clear,
comprehensive and concise, and it needs to come out with the regulations.

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