By Daniel Hunter

Business perceptions of employment legislation is at odds with the actual impact of legislation according to a new government commissioned study published today (Thursday) by Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson.

The Employer Perceptions and Impact of Employment Regulation study found that businesses that view employment law as burdensome often did so because of a lack of understanding of the law. Dismissal processes in particular were seen as stressful and costly with some employers going beyond legal requirements in the mistaken belief that such action was necessary.

“The UK has one of the most lightly regulated and flexible employment systems in the world. What this study shows is that we need to work with employers to help them better understand their rights and responsibilities leaving them free to focus on growing their business," Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said.

“Through the government’s Employment Law Review we are reviewing existing legislation with the aim of providing clarity and certainty for business to give them the confidence to manage their workforce effectively.

“We are addressing business and employee concerns about the dismissal process through encouraging a greater use of settlement agreements and are working closely with Acas to get the rules and procedures for Early Conciliation right. We are also making changes to employment tribunals to make them simpler, cheaper and quicker to use.

“Central to our efforts is the promotion of the benefits of good communication, better management and the early resolution of workplace problems as this can lead to the best outcomes for everyone.“

Other report findings showed:

- when recruiting staff, employers said their main focus was finding the best candidate with the desired education, experience and skills. Equality legislation, recruiting migrant workers and the Agency Workers Directive were all raised by employers as impacting recruitment practices;

- employers who maintain formal working practices are more confident about compliance and do not see employment regulation as burdensome. Employers who work informally and only react to when a problem comes up are worried about litigation and compliance;

- micro, small and medium sized businesses who had little internal HR expertise saw employment regulation as complex and inaccessible to people who lacked a background in law or HR; and

- medium and large businesses were proactive in learning about legislation and keeping up to date with changes and use sources such as and Acas. Smaller businesses are more reactive and only sought information if a problem arose and say the media is their main source information about changes to legislation.

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