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The Budget 2011 and ‘Plan for Growth’ – Employment Law Implications

17th April, 2011

The Budget was published on 23 March 2011 and many people have been discussing the rise in the cost of a pint and whether we will actually see any change to prices at the pumps. Employers should take note of a document entitled ‘Plan for Growth’, which was published alongside the Budget and outlines the Government’s plans to reduce red tape and regulation for businesses (and therefore remove barriers to economic growth).

Since coming to power last May, the Coalition Government has made clear its intention to reduce red tape for businesses, particularly small businesses and ‘Plan for Growth’ sets out proposals for a public audit of existing regulation to take place.

The Government has confirmed that: 1) entitlements to flexible working for parents with children under the age of 17 will not be extended to those with children under 18 2) that the ‘Equality Act’s costly dual discrimination rules’ will not be brought forward and 3) In addition, the Government will review the third party harassment provisions and will consult on removing (in their words) the ‘unworkable requirement’ that employers take reasonable steps to prevent it.

‘Plan for Growth’ also continues to scrutinise the tribunals system. The reforms, which are currently subject to a public consultation, include the possibility of introducing fees and, as previously reported by The Tribunal, an increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one to two years.

The document also promised to implement Lord Young’s proposals on health and safety reform, aimed at reducing unnecessary regulation (including the removal of automatic health and safety inspections for ‘responsible employers’).

Whilst many employees will welcome the proposals in ‘Plan for Growth’, critics have argued that it does not go far enough, with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) describing it as ‘a no change budget’, for doing nothing to reverse the effect (on employers) of spending cuts.

For more information on this, or any other employment matter, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or email her here.

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