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Government pledge to cut red tape saving employers £1Bn described as ‘misery for workers’ by Unite union


The announcement from the government today, which claims that it is taking advantage of post-Brexit freedoms to remove unnecessary red tape and regulatory burdens which could save employers over £1billion has been slammed by Unite, the UK’s leading union.

The Government says that the announcement is part of its priority to grow the economy and is a down payment on the UK’s ambition to have one of the most innovative and agile regulatory regimes in the world.

Today’s package includes:

  • Reducing the business burden. We will reduce time-consuming and disproportionate reporting requirements for specific elements of the Working Time Regulations, while retaining the 48-hour week requirement and upholding our world leading employment standards. This could save employers around £1bn a year. We are also simplifying regulations that apply when a business transfers to a new owner.
  • Ensuring regulation is, by default, the last rather than first response of Government by reforming the Better Regulation Framework. The new, smarter framework will ensure future regulation of our changing economy is streamlined, minimises business burdens, and puts forward-looking regulation at the heart of Government decisions.
  • Improving regulators’ focus on economic growth by ensuring regulatory action is taken only when it is needed, and any action take is proportionate. Following Professor Dame Angela McLean’s review of the regulators’ Growth Duty, the government intends to consult on refreshed guidance on how regulators deliver their growth duties. The government will also consider the merits of commencing statutory reporting and how best to promote growth with utilities regulators, who are currently not in scope of the Growth Duty.
  • Promoting competition and productivity in the workplace by limiting the length of non-compete clauses to three months, providing more flexibility for up to 5 million UK workers to join a competitor or start up a rival business after they have left a position. The change will also provide a boost to the wider UK economy, supporting employers to grow their businesses and increase productivity by widening the talent pool and improving the quality of candidates they can hire.
  • Stimulating innovation, investment and growth by announcing two strategic policy statements to steer our regulators. We are today publishing the first of these statements for consultation, on energy policy, which will be followed soon after by the Government’s strategic steer to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Over the past few decades, we have seen a build-up of regulation in every aspect of our lives. Businesses have faced hundreds of new rules, costing time and money to read and comply with thousands of pages of regulations.

These rules make it more expensive and harder for startups to enter the market or to scale up and grow. They have reduced competition, raised prices and reduced innovation, leaving consumers worse off and UK firms less competitive in global markets.

Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch said: I have listened to the concerns of business of all sizes and have made it a priority to tackle the red tape that holds back UK firms, reduces their competitiveness in global markets and hampers their growth.

We are taking back control of our laws after Brexit, reducing and improving regulation and giving businesses the freedom to do what they do best – sell innovative products, create jobs and grow the economy.

Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: For years and under all Governments, well-meaning Ministers have reached to create new regulations in response to issues.  This is then repeated under the next set of Ministers – leaving us with a high cumulative burden for business to deal with.

We are pleased to see a change of approach here, moving away from regulation as a first resort, alongside a reduction in administrative requirements that divert time away from running a business, and more of a focus for regulators on stimulating economic growth.”

However, Unite, the UK’s leading union slammed the announcement branded it a “boost for bad bosses”.

Under its plans employers will no longer be required to keep records to ensure that the 48 hours working time limit is being adhered to and that limits on how many hours workers can operate at night are being followed.

The removal of requiring employers to record night work is especially worrying as working excessive periods at night has been linked with an increased risk of developing cancer and diabetes.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The government so-called attack on red tape is nothing more than a boost for bad bosses and will pile more misery on workers.

“Removing the requirement for employers to record workers’ hours, means that the regulations effectively become unenforceable.

“Unscrupulous employers will use these emasculated regulations to exploit young or unorganised workers. Cutting red tape? More like a playbook for profiteering”

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