What the budget means for employment law

28 March 2011

After the speculation the dust has settled on the budget. It is fair to say there was not much there to excite employment lawyers or to free businesses from their burdens. The major change was the announcement that dual discrimination will not come into force. Whilst it is possible to spin this by saying employers will not face these claims and so cut their costs and risks, the reality is that it will not make much difference. Conceptually employees who can bring dual discrimination claims will now be left with no legal protection. However, in practice employees are very likely to bring individual discrimination claims. Therefore, employers will need to defend, settle or otherwise deal with such claims.

Other announcements were a repeat of previous announcements including:

  • “Micro businesses” – those with fewer than 10 employees will benefit from a moratorium from new legislation for the next three years. As the government has been busy not enacting new legislation in the employment sphere it is hard to see that this is going to have much effect;
  • Not extending the right to request time off for training to businesses with less than 250 employees – given that this was only a right to request (not to be given) unpaid time off for training and the employee had to fund training, it is unlikely this will have significant impact;
  • Repeal of the right of employees with 17 year old children to request flexible working – this may have more practical impact than the other measures announced. This measure does seem to suggest that flexible working is a bad thing whereas in practice many employers have experienced benefits from flexible working practices.
One of the most interesting announcements was the intention to review regulations on businesses and remove those that are the most burdensome. We do not know what the government is going to be looking at but we eagerly await further announcements.

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