… in brief

This month’s news in brief

Anti-discrimination policies needed

Employers will need to devise specific policies on several new forms of
discrimination following the adoption of a wide-ranging European law. The
anti-discrimination directive will prohibit employers discriminating on age,
sexual orientation and religion, as well as disability. The Government has
until 2006 to adopt the anti-ageism laws, but only until 2003 to implement
provisions on religion and sexual orientation.

Individuals pursue workplace rights

An unprecedented shift from old-style industrial relations to individual
workplace rights is confirmed in Acas’ annual report. It shows a 32 per cent
rise in individual complaints dealt with in 1999-2000 and a 40 per cent jump in
the number of employees contacting Acas. Three-quarters of cases were resolved
before reaching tribunal.

Employers’ incentive for women returners

The Government is considering paying bonuses to employers who take on women
returners as part of a new push to increase family-friendly working practices.
The lump sum would be to cover possible extra costs such as retraining and
updating. Other ideas likely to be included in a consultation paper due at the
end of November are extending maternity leave from 18 to 24 weeks, increasing
maternity pay and increasing the amount of part-time working for returners.

Hodge pledges fast track for work permits

Employment minister Margaret Hodge has set tough targets to speed up the
work permit system for firms wanting to recruit skilled staff from overseas.
She pledged that by April next year, eight out of 10 applications would be
cleared within a week.

Consultation directive is still on course

The framework directive on information and consultation is likely to be
adopted at the end of 2001, says European consultant Peter Reid, despite
reports that it had been sidelined.

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