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Employers do not want employment law changes post-Brexit

Unfair dismissal laws and minimum wage legislation are widely supported by employers

Employers do not want to see sweeping changes to employment law following Brexit, according to a report from the CIPD and law firm Lewis Silkin.

Employment Regulation in the UK: Burden or Benefit? surveyed more than 500 employers and found that 93% of businesses viewed unfair dismissal laws as essential, and 87% believed national minimum wage laws are necessary.

All 28 areas of employment law surveyed were rated as necessary by a majority of employers. Parental rights at work were seen as a requirement by four-fifths (82%) of respondents. Two-thirds (75%) thought agency workers laws must stay, and the working time regulations were viewed as a necessity by 74%.

When it came to the areas where employers most wanted to see change, statutory union recognition laws were only deemed as essential by 55%. Laws surrounding religion and belief (61%), gender reassignment discrimination (61%), the right to request flexible working (67%) and marriage and civil partnership discrimination (68%) were also less likely to be seen as necessary.

Rachel Suff, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said employers clearly value the impact of such laws. “This research shows that in many ways the rhetoric around employment law does not match the reality,” she said. “While much has been written about the need to roll back important aspects of our employment law framework to free businesses of red tape, it is clear that businesses themselves recognise the value of employment protection.

“Many of these regulations exist to protect workers against exploitation, ensure they are paid a fair wage, prevent discrimination in the workplace, and can help improve people management practices. Even the more controversial aspects of employment law, such as the Working Time Regulations, have broad support from UK businesses.”

James Davies, divisional managing partner and joint head of employment at Lewis Silkin, pointed out that there is, however, support for some regulations to be revised. “This research demonstrates just how much support there is among businesses for employment regulation that is well-designed and well-implemented,” he said. “In the UK we continue to enjoy the benefits of employment laws that achieve a balance between worker protection and business flexibility, for which there is much support.

“It is also clear that, however well-intentioned, there are a number of existing regulations that businesses feel need revisiting to ensure that they are clear, more straightforward to implement, and fit for purpose.”