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Perceptions of Employment Law

The Department for Business Innovation & Skills (“BIS”) has published a report in its Employment Relations Research series: Employer Perceptions and the Impact of Employment Regulation.

The research used a qualitative interview approach with 40 employers with a wide spread in terms of size, industry sector and geographical location.

The report makes interesting reading. Contrary to the Government's views on the impact of employment law on business expressed via its 'Red Tape Challenge' and Employment Law Review, the employers in this study generally considered that employment regulation was fair and necessary.  Largely, anxiety about employment law was a result of fear and misunderstanding of the law.  This is the so-called 'perception reality gap', identified by other researchers.

The key points in the report are that:

  • Employers were often supportive of a regulatory framework for employment.
  • Reducing regulation for small employers might not actually be effective in reducing anxiety, because those employers are often unaware of the changes in the law.
  • Employers have a fear of being taken to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal, and some myths surrounding the dismissal process need to be dispelled.
  • The outcomes of tribunal claims were perceived to be unpredictable.
  • Tribunal claims often resulted from small employers tending not to formalise disciplinary procedures unless dismissal was being contemplated.
  • A solution to that problem would be for small businesses to always follow a procedure for dealing with performance and conduct, but these employers expressed concern that this would damage the personal element of the employment relationship.
  • The report identifies a need to provide a single information portal regarding employment law and HR.
  • The focus of reforms to simplify employment law should be upon disciplinary and dismissal procedures.  Interestingly, four years after its abolition, many of the employers who were interviewed still believed there was a statutory disciplinary and dismissal procedure that needed to be followed.

A conclusion of the report is that the perception of employers that legislation is burdensome is based more on the fear of litigation, rather than any actual experience, and that it is worsened by the public pervasiveness of the 'anti-regulation' debate.

At Lanyon Bowdler, we can help employers overcome any anxiety in relation to employment law through a combination of the following:-

  • An audit of employment documentation
  • A fixed-fee helpline service
  • In depth support on an ad hoc or retainer basis
  • Legal expenses insurance to meet legal costs, settlements and awards in the event that a tribunal claim is threatened or commenced
  • Free quarterly newsletters
  • Twice-yearly seminars
  • In-house training

If you have any queries on any aspect of employment law, I can be contacted on 01952 211010, email john.merry@lblaw.co.uk or my colleague Will Morse on 01432 377152 or email william.morse@lblaw.co.uk.