Us and them – employment law and the Olympics – 20/03/2012

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Posted in:HR and Employment|March 20, 2012 | Join the mailing list

As the Olympics approach, the world of employment law is showing more signs of competing interests than it is signs of harmony and unity, says Nigel Crebbin, employment law partner at commercial law firm, Berg.

For employees starting work after the beginning of April this year, the period of continuous employment needed to bring a claim of unfair dismissal will go up from 12 months to two years. However, that’s only one of a number of moves by the Government which
while being applauded by many employers are gaining a hostile response from trades union and other employee bodies.

The Government this week has announced that during the Olympics the limits on shop opening hours on Sundays will be relaxed, but it also appears that this may be testing the water for a permanent relaxation of those limits in future. While many retail businesses
are welcoming this, employee bodies have voiced concern, saying that the move will harm those employees who work in retail.

Also last week, the government announced a consultation process on further changing the law on unfair dismissal, so as to allow small businesses to dismiss employees without risking unfair dismissal claims, provided that set amounts of compensation are paid
to the dismissed employees. There have been claims that the Conservative elements of the Coalition wanted these changes to affect all employers, irrespective of size, but that their Liberal Democrat colleagues felt that that would be a step too far. However,
even with the possible changes limited to businesses with 10 or fewer employees, unions have reacted angrily, with TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, saying that the move would "horrify employees".

"There is a clear wish on the part of the Government to ease the legal restrictions on employers" says Nigel Crebbin at Berg "and after so many years of increasing regulation, that is bound to go down well with business. The worry, however, is that relations
between the Government and the unions are becoming more and more hostile, and the question is whether that "us and them" atmosphere is conducive to Britain’s economy winning the race".

To discuss how we can provide further advice in connection with these issues, please contact Nigel Crebbin, a Partner in our Employment team, by email to or alternatively you can call Nigel on 0161 833 9211.

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No responsibility for article’s accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees.
Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of the contents of this article.

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