Hutton admits government ‘missed plot’ with too much legislation

Business secretary John Hutton has admitted that the government “missed the plot” with its employment legislation drive – and vowed it would now focus on improving the quality of work carried out by staff.

At a Labour Party Conference fringe event, Hutton announced a review of employee engagement, to find out how to improve staff commitment to increase workplace productivity. The review will be led by Ministry of Justice non-executive director David MacLeod, and Nita Clark, director of workplace consultation body the Involvement and Participation Association.

Hutton told Personnel Today: “My perception, having done this job for a year, is that [work policy] is all about the demands of legislation. We have missed the plot quite a lot on all this.

“I’m not understating the importance of minimum standards, but we have spent 10 years developing them. Now we need to take forward how we improve the quality of work.”

Hutton echoed his words from May that the government was unlikely to introduce any more employment legislation – a position likely to be welcomed by employer groups, which had insisted that enough was enough after a wave of law announcements earlier this year.

HR now has a “fundamental” role in helping employers understand the financial benefits of improving staff dedication, Hutton said in Manchester.

“It’s time for a big push on a subject that I expect HR professionals have been animated about for a very long time,” he said.

“We should have an open mind coming into this process. Maybe it’s a resourcing issue, but let’s look at it, let’s get to the bottom of it. Let’s not make the mistake that the way to improve engagement is to reshape laws through industrial action.”

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