The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law

The BCC are seeking a 3-year moratorium on labour legislation. This fails to take account of the UK’s obligations under EU law.

On Friday, the FT reported that the British Chamber of Commerce were seeking for a three year moratorium on labour legislation. This is misguided. It fails to take account of the UK’s obligations under EU law as well as the fact that many of the measures likely to be implemented are, or already have been, subject to staged or delayed implementation.

The absolute deadline for the implementation of the EU Agency Workers Directive is December 2011. If the government delayed effective implementation in the UK of the rights contained in that directive beyond 2011, it would be in breach of its obligations under EU law. It could, in principle, be sued by the European Commission in infraction proceedings, or by workers disadvantaged by the failure to implement the directive.

The Conservatives have said that they will review the UK regulations if they think that the government has “gold-plated” the directive. It is far from having been. There is considerable doubt as to whether or not the draft Regulations do actually encompass the obligations in the Agency Workers Directive – for example in the areas of anti-avoidance and the definition of “pay”. If anything, the draft Regulations may well amount to a defective implementation of the Directive and challenges to them may materialise unless they are strengthened.

The BCC also wants to stop or delay the Equality Bill. The reality is that the government will be hard pushed to get the Bill through parliament in advance of the general election anyway. Presumably the BCC’s concern centres on the introduction of pay audits. Yet private sector organisations with more than 250 employees are to be given until 2013 to publish pay audits, and then only voluntarily. There is no justification for delay in implementation of the measures in the Equality Bill concerned with public procurement. Those measures are an imaginative method for furthering equality through the way in which public contracts are awarded.

The government has long considered it appropriate to extend paternity leave but has consistently put back the implementation of it proposals for economic reasons. When new paternity leave entitlements are finally implemented it will be disingenuous for the BCC to claim that its members have been taken by surprise when the proposals have been under consideration for a number of years. Indeed, David Cameron claims that he will take Labour’s proposals on paternity leave even further if he is elected.

It’s impossible to see how a “labour legislation freeze” would work in practice, particularly bearing in mind the UK’s obligations under EU law. The reason why the BCC makes the suggestion is because it wants to delay for as long as possible what is perceives to be the imposition of extra costs on its members.

It should be honest about that, so that the questions of whether there are any additional costs, and if so whether they are justified, can be addressed.

Our guest writer is Richard Arthur of Thompsons Solicitors

7 Responses to “The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law”

  1. BW

    This shows just why we need to repatriate powers from the EU. It is essential to stop the tide of idiotic labour and other legislation that damages business. Indeed we need to turn the tide and reduce the burdens. We all depend ultimately on successful businesses, even those who work in the public sector. This is one of the many ways the left go wrong with every Labour Government ending in disaster for the UK. They spend everyone else’ money until it runs out, then more on top, and damage business with pointless legislation that is always counter productive and damages those they are silly enough to think it helps.

  2. ToUChstone blog

    RT @leftfootfwd: The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law: //is.gd/51PrE

  3. TUC news

    RT @leftfootfwd: The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law: //is.gd/51PrE

  4. willstraw

    BW – care to tell us which legislation is “idiotic”?

    Take your pick from a list we produced:
    * 20 days guaranteed paid annual lead
    * equality from discrimination on grounds of age, sex, or
    * equal pay between men and
    * a minimum of 14 weeks maternity leave for women, and two weeks for
    * equal employment rights for part time
    * guarantees for workers to retain basic rights if their company is taken or the public service they work for is
    * data protection for
    * protection of workers where their employment contract is terminated

    //www.leftfootforward.org/2009/11/david-cameron-the-problems-with-new-eu-policy/

  5. Morrish Solicitors

    RT @TUCnews: RT @leftfootfwd: The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law: //is.gd/51PrE

  6. Paul Collins

    Everyone keeps on about the cost to business, as if business is the exploited class.
    What about cost and the rights of the ordinary workers?

  7. Web links for 23rd November 2009 | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC

    […] The BCC’s misguided call for a freeze on labour law Richard Arthur of Thompsons Solicitors writes on Left Foot Forward: "On Friday, the FT reported that the British Chamber of Commerce were seeking for a three year moratorium on labour legislation. This is misguided. It fails to take account of the UK’s obligations under EU law as well as the fact that many of the measures likely to be implemented are, or already have been, subject to staged or delayed implementation." […]

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