The modern workplace

This sought opinions on changes to employment law aimed at encouraging a more fair and flexible approach at work, in particular:

  • a flexible parental leave system allowing mothers and fathers to share leave and give parents and employers greater choice about how leave is taken;
  • extending the right to flexible working to all employees but replacing the statutory flexible working request procedure with a Code of Practice on reasonableness;
  • changes to the Working Time Regulations to allow carry over and rescheduling of annual leave in cases of sick leave and family leave absence; and
  • tackling unequal pay through requiring employers who lose an Employment Tribunal case on equal pay to carry out a pay audit.

Consultation closed on 8 August and the government response is awaited.

Immigration – Tier 1 and Tier 2 entrants

Although the numbers of entrants to the UK via Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system is already limited, the UK Border Agency is consulting on a proposal that, in future, only Tier 1 entrants will be granted an automatic path to settlement and that Tier 2 will be regarded as an entry for temporary migration only.

Consultation closed on 9 September and the government response is awaited.

Resolving workplace disputes

This covered measures to:

  • achieve more early resolution of workplace disputes without having to go to an employment tribunal;
  • ensure that, where parties do need to come to an employment tribunal, the process is as swift, userfriendly and effective as possible; and
  • help businesses and social enterprises feel more confident about hiring people.

Specific measures under consideration include:

  • a requirement for all cases to go through ACAS before a tribunal claim is issued;
  • introduction of fees for lodging tribunal claims;
  • more flexible strike-out powers for tribunals;
  • allowing formal offers to settle in tribunal cases with costs consequences if the offer is not beaten; and
  • more cases being heard by an employment judge sitting alone.

Directors’ remuneration and focus

BIS has called for evidence from interested parties on a number of corporate governance matters. In a document entitled “A Long-Term Focus for Corporate Britain”, it debates a broad range of topics, from the question of whether directors of UK companies have a sufficiently long-term focus, to the role of shareholders in the equity markets generally.

Against a background of data showing how director remuneration in FTSE100 companies has increased much faster than non-director pay, a number of specific questions are raised:

  • should membership of remuneration committees be widened?
  • are shareholders effective in holding companies to account over directors’ pay? Specifically, should the government remove the provision in the Companies Act 2006 that exempts from shareholder approval any golden parachute or severance payment that is paid pursuant a preexisting contractual arrangement?
  • what would be the impact of greater transparency in relation to directors’ pay in respect of:
    • linkage between pay and corporate objectives;
    • performance criteria for annual bonus schemes; and
    • relationship between directors’ pay and employees’ pay?

Responses are due by 14 January 2011.