Intelligent regulation the key to workplace equality

Government has said that regulation has role to play in addressing inequalities
in the labour market and raising standards in the workplace, but admits that it
needs to be used in a more intelligent way.

at the Guardian’s ‘Good Day’s Work’ conference in London yesterday, trade and
industry secretary Patricia Hewitt said regulation was "much better in
moving out the bad rather than encouraging the good".

questioned by delegates on the Working Time Directive and its future
implications, Hewitt said there was potentially "a tension" between
an individual’s right to work more than 48 hours and the state introducing
legislation which restricted that.

very important to come back to the issue of employee choice and I think the
balance is right at the moment," she said.

don’t think it’s the Government’s role to say that you can’t work more than 48
hours per week. It has to be a voluntary decision. That is why we are defending
the individual opt-out."

said the Government was working with the CBI and had put forward a series of
proposals to the EU consultation, including one where the opt-out has to be
renewed on an annual basis.

also said the Government was looking at extending flexible working rights to
carers of older people, in the same manner as those available for people with
young children.

By Mike Berry

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