The Government needs to fundamentally rethink its approach to employment law in order to bolster workplace flexibility and promote a code of practice on flexible working rather than more legislation, says a new report by the CBI.
Its report, Thinking Positive: the 21st century employment relationship, produced in collaboration with Hays, looks at how flexible working has helped minimise private sector job losses during and post-recession.
It calls for this informal approach to flexible working to be embedded into future employment law and in the Government’s Employment Law Review. “Rather than automatically opting for legislation, in most cases the Government should specify what it is trying to achieve and set out suggested processes in more flexible guidance or codes of practice,” it says, adding that this could be applied to EU directives.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Traditionally when making employment law governments have tried to specify every last detail of what should go on in the workplace.
“With a strong base of employment rights already in place, we simply don’t need the state telling us how to manage every aspect of basic human relations.
“The Government should adopt a simpler approach to future employment law, one which maximises choice for employers and staff and plays up the strengths of our flexible labour market.
“Good communication helped companies and employees work together to make difficult changes to working patterns to get through the recession. These lessons are particularly important now the public sector is facing similar challenges as a result of measures to cut the deficit.”
Alistair Cox, Chief Executive of Hays plc, added: “Flexibility is a key ingredient in driving future economic growth in the UK. It is also a key aspect that more and more professionals look for in their lives and careers, particularly at a time when we want to encourage employers to invest and create more jobs, despite today’s economic uncertainty.
“Juggling their work commitments around other commitments in their busy lives is increasingly important to people, so giving them the opportunities to benefit from flexible working practices is key.
“Endless red tape and legislation prevents employers and employees from being able to capitalise on the vast number of benefits that flexible working offers. It is time these constraints are removed so that we can get more people into worthwhile work.”
Responding to the report, Working Families Policy Officer Jonathan Swan said: “Flexible working law is a success for the many working parents and carers who form a vital part of today’s workforce. We know of many employers who already go far beyond the minimum that the law requires to provide the best possible flexible working opportunities for their staff. These businesses understand that flexibility can boost performance.”
“Unfortunately, our legal helpline receives daily calls from employees whose managers are refusing them any flexibility at all. For these workers, the law is a vital backstop. A code of practice is not enough.”