Edward Davey: 'Regulations that stop job creation betray people who want to work'
David Woods, September 22, 2011
The employment relations minister has pledged to push ahead with flexible maternity and paternity leave and a move from "confrontation to conciliation" with regards to employment regulation and tribunals.
Addressing the Liberal democrat conference earlier this week, the minister for employment relations, consumer and postal affairs, Edward Davey said: "We inherited a system of maternity and paternity leave that was inflexible. It was bad for families and firms alike.
"Now some people suggested to me that we should abolish maternity leave. That isn't my policy. It isn't our party's policy. And because we are in government, it isn't government policy either. But we do need reform. Reform that works for mums and dads - and the people that employ them. "Our proposal is simple. It is radical. And it is right.
"It's not the state who should decide who looks after a child. It's their parents. Couples should decide who gets the leave: the mother, the father, or both. Of course there has to be an initial period of maternity leave. Women give birth, and men don't.
"But mums and dads would be able to share the rest of the leave in a way that works for them.
"Everyone [should] be able to make the choice that works best for them and their family.
"Along the way, we would also abolish the crazy rule that says that if a mother returns early to work part-time, agreed with her employer, the state says she must lose all her maternity rights. How crazy is that? Well let me tell you: this rule is out."
Moving to employment law, he added: "Regulations that stop job creation betray people who want to work. For too long, our employment tribunal system has been bad for employers and bad for employees - but very good for lawyers. It needs a radical shift from confrontation to conciliation.
"But it's not the only one. I'm especially proud to have signed an order to end legalised age discrimination at work.
"A law that allowed firms to force people to retire at 65 - even when they were good at their job, and did not want to go. Well, that law has now gone.
"The Liberal Democrats have shown that - in government - we can and we have helped people and businesses - and we should campaign on that success."