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Latest News; sickness review and the cost of legislation change

Added: 2011-02-24 10:15:39.0

Government commissions review into workplace sickness absence

In a bid to help small business owners, many of whom will be encouraged and expected to create jobs over the next few years, the government has launched a review that will look into how businesses can deal with sickness absence and also the potential opportunities to provide occupational health services.

The review is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).  Although the scope of the review has not been confirmed, many business owners will hope that statutory and occupational sick pay rates and conditions may be examined and that it will not be so easy for employer’s to ‘pull a sickie’.

A similar review took place in 2008 and it was revealed that the annual cost of sickness absence to the UK was £100 billion.  Subsequently, ‘sick notes’ were replaced by ‘fit notes’ in April of 2010, a step that has been broadly supported by employers.  Business owners will hope that this new review also brings in change that will help them manage this serious issue more easily.

Employment law changes will cost businesses £23 billion over 4 years

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has revealed that employers in the UK will face a bill of £23.87 billion due to the numerous changes in employment law expected over the next 4 years.

The BCC claim that the cost will go on the forthcoming law changes:

  • Pension reforms: £4.5 billion annually
  • Agency Workers Directive: £1.5 billion annually
  • Right to request time off for training: £174 million annually

Director-general of the BCC, David Frost commented: "The Government claims business growth is top of the agenda, yet UK firms will be hit with huge costs once these new regulations come into force.

Unless the Government reduces this kind of red tape, we will continue to have high levels of unemployment and could end up derailing the recovery."

The BCC has urged the Government to use this year’s Budget to stimulate growth by reducing the regulatory burden faced by private sector companies.  Frost has also highlighted concerns around the scrapping of the default retirement age, revisions to paternity leave and revising who has the right to request for flexible working.  He stated that business owners will be confused by the changes and the administration associated with them and will hence be distracted from growing their businesses.

Whilst there are ways that businesses can stay on top of employment law changes and implementing them into the company’s policies and procedures (by using services such as Cleardocs), it seems that overall costs of these changes to the business are unavoidable.  Do you feel that the government is making things harder for you?  Or do you think that the changes are positive for your business?  Let us know by commenting below.

The content of this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such, or used instead of seeking legal advice.


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