There is widespread HR support for the government's emphasis on diversity and the planned Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), new research has revealed.
Employers currently have to deal with 35 Acts, 52 statutory instruments and 13 codes of practice on equality issues in addition to European Union law.
A survey of 112 HR practitioners by Personnel Today's sister publication IRS Employment Review, shows that respondents hope the CEHR will simplify this "legislative mess".
Eight in 10 (81%) respondents would be happy if the commission just issued advice on good practice and tools for employers, rather than carry out investigations (40%) and legal enforcement (31%).
The Five Year Forecast: the IRS third-term HR report shows that HR practitioners are also concerned about developments in Europe. Nearly one in three (32%) said that if the draft directive on agency temporary staff was approved they would use fewer temps, while one in four (22%) was concerned at the possible increase in costs.
The government wants to drive up employment from 75% to 80% - meaning more people on incapacity benefits, ex-offenders and others in "excluded groups" will need to be found jobs, presenting new challenges for HR.
Recent years have seen a twin-track approach to raising the standing of HR: aligning it with the needs of the business and demanding a place on the board in return, and seeking recognition of its "professional" status.
HR staff strongly support the first approach. Some 85% want HR to respond more to business needs, while 86% said having a voice at board level should be a priority.
But there is little appetite for professional status. Just one in five respondents (19%) wants tighter controls on who can enter HR, for example.
For bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that have made this a central policy plank, this may be an unwelcome finding.
Mark Crail is the managing editor of IRS Employment Review. The report is available from LexisNexis Butterworths, tel: 020 8662 2000