Ministers under fire for hasty law consultation

The Government has come under renewed attack from employers for providing
too little lead-in time to new legislation.

Organisations have six weeks to respond to the consultation paper on
part-time working published last week. The deadline is 27 February. But the
Government knew two years ago that it had to implement the law by 5 May 2000.

The curtailed consultation period on part-time working comes despite
promises last year by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers to improve the
delivery of legislation.

Employers fear problems will be missed and amendments will have to be made
after the legislation comes into force, as occurred with working time laws.

"It is exasperating because it is totally unnecessary," said
Robbie Gilbert, chief executive of the Employers’ Forum on EU Social Policy.

"The Government has known it was coming for two years and nothing has
changed in the ground rules in that time."

Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality
Association, believed the Government would ignore responses because of the
short time left to bring out the final regulations. "I suspect it is ready
to go and, come the end of April, they will ignore all that has gone
before," he said.

Nicholas Taylor, group HR manager at Pizza Express, attacked the timing of
the consultation.

"It does make you wonder whether they are really interested in the
responses and how they plan to take them on board," he said.

Janet Gray, head of HR and IT at Jarvis Hotels, said that yet again the
consultation period was too tight.

"It would be nice to have a longer time to consider it," she
argued.

• The consultation paper is available on the Internet at the address below.

Responses can be e-mailed to geoffrey.temme@irdv.dti.gov.uk. Copy us your
responses at personneltoday@rbi.co.uk

By John Robinson

www.dti.gov.uk/ir/consultz.htm

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