Staff moves could add to law enforcement problem

High staff turn-over among policy officials at the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI) is adding to the problems of developing and implementing employment
legislation, experts have warned.

Commentators from both employers and the trade union movement have said that
the regular movement of civil servants with responsibility for employment
issues made it difficult for experience to be retained and for those liaising
with the DTI to maintain good channels of communication.

Sarah Veale, senior employment rights officer at the TUC, said, "It
would be helpful if there was some stability in government departments so
officials have the chance to build up experience in an area and not disappear
as soon as they have learnt the job. It is a real problem."

She added that the poor drafting and implementation of employment
legislation would only encourage legal challenges against the Government.

Robbie Gilbert, chief executive of the Employers Forum on Statute and
Practice, which is campaigning alongside Personnel Today to improve regulation,
said the forced rotation of experienced staff was at odds with practice in the
private sector.

"They still seem to move people very frequently as part of their career
development in a way which I think is less common now in business.

"The problem of rotation is bringing in people with no knowledge or
experience."

Dominic Johnson, head of employment relations at the CBI, said, "There
is an element of truth but I don’t think all the expertise walks out of the
door after two years. Directors stay in place. The problem is when a whole team
moves, and that has happened."

A DTI spokeswoman denied that rotation of staff was causing problems with
the drafting of legislation and that moving officials was important for cross-fertilisation
and spreading of staff experience. "Moves are arranged with a view to
continuity of work being maintained."

By Tom Powdrill

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