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dirigisme emanating from across the Channel.


UK political parties then pick up on these ostensibly voter-friendly proposals, their manifestos promising everything from paternity leave, employment rights, Corporate Social Responsibility, welfare- to-work programmes, training, procurement, contracts and financial accounting requirements. Of course, rarely do these parties have any say whatsoever - their origin lies in EU directives ostensibly designed to complete the single market, whereas their actual effect is to ensure that the European Union becomes less competitive when trading with countries outside the bloc.


UK Business Secretary Vince Cable, speaking to the annual conference of British Chambers of Commerce in March, pledged that he would ‘hack through the thicket of red tape and


bureaucracy that we inherited.’ A systematic review of regulations is underway with more than 1,200 already recommended for scrapping, consolidation or simplification. An Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill was announced in the recent Queen’s Speech and a White Paper on ‘Solving Workplace Disputes’ will be published later this year.


BIS has published plans for the first five areas of business to be reviewed. These are retail, manufacturing, hospitality, road transport and employment law. A ‘one-in one-out rule’ was introduced in January 2011 requiring any new proposed regulation which has a cost for business to be offset by another regulation with the same value being dropped.


So far, so good you might think, the fight back is underway - in particular the promise to look at employment tribunals which cost on average £4000


and can cost managers weeks of work. (There are 200,000 claims annually. There have been strong calls from business that the time limit before a claim for unfair dismissal can be made should be extended from one to two years with all claims going to ACAS first.)


But as soon as such proposals edge into the legislative limelight, the schizophrenia at the heart of the Coalition is exposed. The Prime Minister said the wanted to use the (watered-down) Beecroft report as the basis for a new business-friendly campaign. He was immediately stymied by Vince Cable who dismissed it all as a wacky Steve Hilton legacy that will cast a ‘dead hand of fear’ over employees, even if, through incompetence, they have every right to be afraid. Until all parts of the Coalition can agree that not all employees contribute equally to the success of an enterprise, it is hard to see where the schizophrenia will end.


BF


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The employment law specialists


  Russell Maddock Chief Executive, Atlantic Foods


01306 700021  robin.williams@rwlaw.co.uk www.rwlaw.co.uk Unit 3D, City Business Centre, 6 Brighton Road, Horsham RH13 5BB


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