Employers Must Abide by Law or Pay a High Price; with at Least a Dozen Material Changes to Employment Law in the Last 12 Months Alone Robert Wigley-Jones, Midlands Head of Human Resource Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Argues That This Is an Area Small Business Cannot Afford to Overlook
Byline: Robert Wigley-Jones
Developing effective human resource strategies and managing updates to increasingly complex employment legislation is a concern for all businesses but an even greater challenge for small ones.
Responding to the evolving legislative environment can be a burden in terms of the management time required to understand new or changing requirements and ensure compliance.
This presents a challenge for many smaller firms, which often lack the internal expertise and resources to keep abreast of such developments.
All too easily, companies can overlook this important area and misunderstand the full impact of legislative change. However, noncompliance can have serious implications for the business.
For instance, the introduction of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 has had wide reaching affects on a range of people based issues and now exposes employers to unlimited compensation in some areas if the regulations are breached.
Since the new rules came into force, morew than 1,500 age discrimination claims have been filed and a further 8,000 are expected within the next year, according to the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Although an increase in claims had been expected, there is more that companies can do to protect their liabilities and minimise exposure.
Most importantly, employers who have not done so already need to identify and prioritise potential risk areas and deal with them now, ensuring that appropriate policies and training are put in place.
Other recent changes to employment law include the introduction of new Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).
The TUPE regulations seek to preserve employees' terms and conditions when a business or undertaking, or part of one, is transferred to a new employer. The new 2006 version specifically includes contracting out, contracting in and re-contracting of services, formalising case law which extended the reach of the old rules.
As a result, where there is an organised grouping of employees undertaking the work being transferred, those employees can transfer to the new contractor.
This change poses a number of complex legal challenges to employers, such as consulting with representatives of affected employees, considering whether and how certain benefits can be replicated, harmonising terms and benefits, and dealing with any redundancies. …