Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Employers face real changes

Employers should prepare for some major changes in workplace rules now that the new Government is in place - that's the warning from John Mehtam, our Employment Law specialist.

“The creation of a Coalition Government meant that initially we were in the strange position of having a new government without knowing what their actual policies were. Now following the Queen’s Speech, and with the emergency budget due on June 22, things are becoming clearer, and the message is that things are going to change.”

John said the workplace would be particularly affected by the new government’s plans. “We could well see a new system of flexible parental leave, with parents sharing maternity and paternity leave for up to 18 months, which will have a huge impact on local companies. And if the Liberal Democrat proposal to extend fathers’ rights to take time off for ante-natal appointments is also introduced, the impact could be even greater.”

John said there was likely to be new protection for “whistle blowers”, in particular NHS staff who raise concerns about patient safety.

“The Government is planning to introduce an annual limit on the number of economic migrants who come into the UK from outside the EU, which is good news for the local workforce. This means only migrants who bring the most value to the economy or who have specific skills will be allowed to enter the country, and so valuable jobs will be protected for UK workers.”

And John also welcomed the news that the current employment tribunal system is to be overhauled. “There are suggestions that higher deposits will be required and that costs will be increased to prevent weak claims going forward, and to encourage mediation instead.

“This is an exciting time for businesses, as the new government is considering some brave and thought-provoking proposals – but it’s clear that the changes will need to be carefully managed as the economy continues its fragile recovery.”