the Employment Act has finally arrived – and it is the largest chunk of
employment law ever to be embodied within one Act.
next week, staff will have the right to request to work flexibly and will be
able to request information on the pay of members of the opposite sex in
similar roles using equal pay questionnaires.
it will mean more form filling, but it is difficult to argue against the
principles behind this legislation. Once we had failed to enable enough staff
to strike a healthy work-life balance and to reduce the gender pay gap, this
legislation was inevitable.
is not inevitable is the strengthening of this law in the future. The
Government has warned employers that if they do not comply with these
regulations then it will toughen them up.
compliance will not be enough. While it will be possible for a streetwise
employer to comply without actually having to accommodate any requests, where
would that leave us?
would leave us with a 19 per cent pay gap, a destructive long-hours work
culture and the prospect of additional, more inflexible legislation. There
would be a real likelihood of mandatory equal pay audits and compulsory
flexible working arrangements.
have to accept that a flexible, equally paid workforce is a strength. HR knows
the benefits this would deliver on recruitment, retention and branding, but we
have failed to convince everyone else. It is a huge communication challenge and
it has to go beyond writing a policy. The business case must be sold to the
board and to line managers, and the message has to be that it can be a source
of competitive advantage.
must not give the Government another excuse to ride roughshod over the business
lobby because, despite their protestations (see page 15), it will lead to more
of the poorly implemented red tape that is currently strangling business.
Mike Broad, Assistant Editor