This year has seen an unprecedented volume of new employment legislation and, consequently, long hours for HR practitioners. So what have been the main headaches in 2002, and where will the challenges lie in 2003? Compiled by Phil Boucher
Head of HR, at SSSL British Sky Broadcasting
In the past year, like most other businesses, we have had to keep abreast of the continuing stream of new legislation.
It has been a major challenge to interpret the case law that has developed as a result of this and we have questioned and reviewed our own interpretation of the legislation whenever the case law has been published. As a result, we have revisited and, where necessary, amended our own internal policies and procedures to ensure that we take account of the case law that continually shapes the letter and spirit of the legislation.
Over the next year, we anticipate it will continue to be a major challenge to implement some of the recent legislation, particularly The Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2002 and The Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002. These present us with the requirement to consider requests for flexible working from all parents with children up to six years old, and from those who have disabled children aged 18 years or under.
Being such a large employer and working in a 24-hour business, we already have more than 1,000 shifts to administer, which is not easy by any means. It may be that the legislation causes the number of shifts to increase, which will, in turn, increase our difficulties further. However, I am certain the problems associated with providing such flexibility will be much more difficult for smaller businesses. So regardless of the changes that take place, we should be more than able to cope.
We will also have to take account of the new rights that fixed-term employees will have. Again this may cause problems in the initial implementation.
Historically, we have used fixed-term contracts in some parts of the business to cover increased business activity for limited periods as it gives us the flexibility to increase and decrease staffing as required. With the rights of those on fixed-term contracts being aligned to those of permanent staff, it may not be as useful to have this workforce as it has been in the past. On the other hand, I can see that it can be viewe