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first_imgEmployment Bill will have dramatic impactOn 12 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Employment Relations Minister Alan Johnson outlines the new bill to RossWighamQ Will the new rights for parents to request flexible workingarrangements have an impact? A This will have a real impact. It is speeding up a process that istaking place anyway – many companies already have excellent arrangements.During our exhaustive consultation the message we received was that parentsshould have forms of flexible working, such as compressed hours. We felt if we tried to spread this by Best Practice we would lose ageneration. It is about parents being allowed to have flexible working atstages of their child’s development. Q What will happen if organisations pay lip service to the new rights towork flexibly? A Firms have a duty to consider the request. This is by no means onlybest practice but it is down to the employee to suggest the way they want towork more flexibly. Employers have to give the request serious consideration.If they think they can just leave it in the out-tray they will be unpleasantlysurprised. The way the right is framed in law is that the employer must have a meetingwith the employee and give a reasoned response. If the employer says no – whichit can do for a range of business reasons – the request must have beenseriously considered. If the employer has just gone through the motions thenthat can be tested in an employment tribunal. Employment tribunals can’t second-guess business decisions. But if the firmclaims it cannot accommodate the request because it can’t find someone else towork on a Thursday, for example, and it transpires that it has made no attemptto do that, the tribunal can knock the employer back. That has “teeth”.We shall review it in three years’ time. Q Will the Employment Bill reduce the number of employment tribunals? A There are three ways it will actually help to prevent cases goingto tribunal. It will resolve more cases in the workplace because every company,of whatever size, has to have an internal grievance and disciplinary procedure.Employers will have to discuss what staff have been accused of with theemployee themselves and allow an appeal. This will ensure many of the caseswill be sorted out. If the case goes as far as a tribunal, it is far better to have it dealtwith in conciliation. We are saying there should be a compulsory period ofconciliation. The government is also insisting every employee has a statement of terms andconditions including grievance and disciplinary procedures. We are reallytightening up on this because it will help keep the number of cases down.Tribunals often get bogged down on what the terms and conditions are. Q Why did the government not go through with its initial plans to chargeemployees a fee to apply for a tribunal? A We were talking about a modest fee but there was fierce oppositionto this. People who use the system generally don’t have lots of money and a feewould discourage them. Q Should the government be providing more support for Acas? A Acas will need more money. Charging was going to be a way ofachieving this. We’ve now set up a taskforce to look at the whole question offunding. It will need more money and that will be addressed in the spending review.Q How will the Employment Bill affect HR? A All of this is grits to the mill for HR managers. All the HRmeasures developed since the 1980s have helped make this into something moretangible. The evidence of what this means to a company’s bottom line – how toincrease productivity, reduce wastage, how to increase morale – has beendemonstrated time and time again by HR measures. Senior managers have torecognise that HR issues are central to the company operating properly. The Employment Bill: the new measures– A requirement for employees to raise grievances with employers beforeapplying to a tribunal– A fixed period of conciliation to promote timely settlementof disputes– A statement of terms and conditions (including grievance anddiscipline procedures) for all staff– A fast track system and other measures to moderniseemployment tribunals– Parents with children under six have the right to askemployers to consider flexible working– Two weeks paid paternity leave for working fathers (fromApril 2003)– Six months paid and a further six months unpaid maternityleave for working mothers (from April 2003) Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more