Plan for Growth?

In last weeks budget the Government announced changes to regulation as part of their “plan for growth”. However in their attempt to take the burden of regulation from businesses, there are several areas which directly affect progress on equality. The effect of this will be that there are many regulations stemming from the Equality Act 2010 with which businesses do not have to comply. Below we show in bold the key announcements which affect equality.

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1) The Government will introduce a moratorium exempting micro and start-up businesses from new domestic regulation for three years from 1 April 2011.

2.47 Recognising the particular burden that new regulation places on small businesses, the Government will exempt micro businesses (i.e. businesses with fewer than 10 employees) and genuine start-ups from new domestic regulation. The moratorium will last for three years, affecting all regulation due to start from 1 April 2011 onwards.

2.48 In exceptional instances, and only where there is a compelling argument, any breach of the moratorium will require both the consent of the Reducing Regulation Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and the final sign-off of the Economic Affairs Committee, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Impacts on equality will be taken in to account when making decisions on whether to exempt micro businesses.

2.49 Following the HMRC definition, the Government proposes start-ups would be identified as businesses commencing a trade, profession or vocation on or after the date that the moratorium begins, unless:

  • · at any time in the six months leading up to the start of this business, they carried on another business that did mostly the same activities;
  • · the new business is the result of the transfer of another business which carried out the same activities; and
  • · the new business takes on an existing business or part of an existing business.

 

2.50 Micro businesses will be able to comply with new regulatory standards voluntarily if they choose to. Introducing a policy of exempting micro businesses from new regulation will challenge policy makers’ thinking on whether regulation is the right solution. This policy represents a complete shift in the culture of government. It will find alternatives to regulation for meeting its policy objectives wherever possible.

 

2) The Government will scrap proposals for specific regulations that would have cost businesses over £350 million a year to implement.

2.51 To reduce the costs of regulation on all businesses, the Government is announcing that it:

· will not extend the right to request time to train to businesses with fewer than 250 employees. It is estimated that this would have cost businesses up to £350 million a year,11 and will provide SMEs with the flexibility to manage the training requirements of their companies to meet their needs without spending time on administering the ’right to request’ process, which is proportionately more costly for smaller businesses;

  • · will not bring forward Equality Act dual discrimination rules that would have cost business £3 million per year;12
  • · repeal the right to request flexible working to parents of 17 year olds that was planned for April, which would have had an administrative burden costing £0.5 million;13 and
  • · will consult to remove the unworkable requirement in the Equality Act for businesses to take reasonable steps to prevent persistent harassment of their staff by third parties as they have no direct control over it, which would save £0.3 million.14

 

3) The Government will launch a public thematic review to reduce the stock of regulation.

 

2.52 To significantly reduce the burden of existing regulation, the Government will seek the public’s views on over 21,000 UK Statutory Instruments currently in effect. The thematic review will address different regulatory themes over the next year, through a public website. Its aim is to gather views from businesses and the public particularly affected by existing regulations and invite practical suggestions for alternatives. This consultation will presume that all regulations identified as burdensome would be removed unless good reasons are given for them to stay. These reasons will be verified by an independent reviewer. The review will be similar to one recently launched by President Obama, who has ordered agencies to seek public comments on rules, draw up plans for a Government wide review of all regulation, and reduce burdens on small business.

 

4) The Government will make further changes to employment legislation to reduce the costs to businesses of compliance.

 

2.53 Government will publish a timetable for its further review of employment law over the course of the Parliament, which will allow businesses to provide input in to the changes that are being made. The review is aimed at reducing the estimated £1 billion burdens of complying with employment law.15

 

5) The Government will implement proposals from Lord Young’s Review of Health and Safety.

 

2.54 Government is implementing the recommendations of Lord Young’s Review of Health and Safety. On 21 March 2011 the Government announced that it is:

  • · bringing in new risk assessment tools and the registration of health and safety consultants to discourage them from promoting over-compliance;
  • · introducing combined food safety and health & safety inspections in local authorities to cut down on time spent with regulators; and
  • · taking action to constrain ‘no win, no fee’ legal practices.

 

6) The Government plans to move registration of the main business taxes online.

 

7) The Government will launch a major drive to revise burdensome EU regulations and directives.

 

2.56 The Government will seek to revise numerous EU regulations and directives. The Government has identified specific areas where improvements can be made:

  • · EU-sourced trade regulation. The Commission should launch a targeted simplification programme to address those regulations that impose the greatest cost on businesses trading beyond the EU. A 25 per cent reduction in these costs could result in annual savings of approximately €2 billion for EU businesses.16 Even a 5 per cent reduction in trade costs could increase EU-27 productivity by 2 per cent;17
  • · EU maternity and paternity rights. The European Parliament’s position on the Pregnant Workers directive would give 20 weeks maternity leave and 2 weeks’ paternity leave, in principle on full pay, which would cost UK businesses in excess of an extra £2 billion a year, with most benefits going to the highest paid women. The Government will seek to prevent costly and regressive changes to maternity rights;
  • · Clinical Trials Directive. Government will seek to influence the Commission to bring forward soundly based proposals to reduce regulatory burdens in the European Clinical Trials Directive; and
  • · Information and Consultation of Employees Directive. The Commission is currently reviewing the directive on Informing and Consulting Employees, which gives employees in medium and large businesses a right to be informed and consulted on a regular basis about issues in the organisation they work for, including the firm’s economic situation and employees’ contractual arrangements. The Government will negotiate to avoid any costly revisions.

 

11 Department for Business Innovation and Skills estimates, 2011

12 Equality Act 2010 Impact Assessment, Government Equalities Office, April 2010

13 Extending the Right to Request Flexible Working to Parents of Children Aged 17 Impact Assessment, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills,

October 2010

14 Equality Act 2010 Impact Assessment, Government Equalities Office, April 2010

15 Simplification Plan 2009: Delivering a better business environment, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, December 2009

 

 

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~ by jonathanure on March 28, 2011.

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