Most British employers are proud of the high duty of care provided to their employees. Through creating a safe and secure environment for workers it allows them to focus on what’s important to the business; delivering results. The government has recently pledged a commitment to change 86% of the UK Health and Safety legislation by 2014 to favour employers. This would prevent a significant amount of the personal injury lawsuits active today from ever reaching the courts.
These proposals have been formulated in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which aims to gut the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. The changes would prevent employees being able to claim compensation for personal injury from some circumstances attributed to health and safety negligence.
Part of the motivation behind the bill is attributed to Britain’s economic decline. The government has assessed UK business legislation on a range of issues from taxes to health and safety and concluded that health and safety law is a restriction upon the country’s enterprise system. Whilst there remains a strong argument to remove red tape from business operations, removing the rights of individuals to a safe work place should not be seen as the solution. A reduction in health and safety laws severely impacts protections for workers and does serve as a reasonable answer to the countries unemployment woes.
Labour has taken the lead in criticizing the bill for its mismanagement of employment rights but the reform in progress has yet to reveal is true nature. The Tories are championing economic incentives for regulatory changes that could aid job creation and employment minister Chris Grayling has recited the Tory line on the ‘Global Race’, further emphasising the need for UK business to succeed. His recent comments stated the aim to ‘Cut Health and Safety Legislation by half as part of the employment law overhaul although the proposals appear go much further.
The controversial bill’s recent parliamentary hearing on the November 14 created a vested media interest but spring 2013 is likely to gain more attention as the bill reaches decision time. It is currently undergoing detailed examination to ensure it can gain parliamentary and public support. Voting will take place on each clause although many Labour MP’s remain optimistic that major elements of the reform can be rejected. Although health and safety laws can provide a burden on some aspects of business operations, employees have a right to protection at work.