According to the "Cut EU Red Tape" report released this week, the "complexity and quantity of employment legislation coming from Europe is preventing job creation". Furthermore, the report claims that unnecessary EU legislation is stifling growth and placing unnecessary burdens on SMEs and micro-enterprises. The report, commissioned by the Prime Minister and prepared by a business-led taskforce, therefore sets out a number of recommendations to remove or amend EU legislation, including a number of proposals concerning employment law.
The report's recommendations include:
- a presumption that micro-enterprises are exempt from all EU employment law but where something is beneficial, they should only have lighter burdens placed on them.
- withdrawal of the European Commission's proposal to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive to increase maternity leave to 20 weeks' full pay.
- avoiding any changes to existing information and consultation legislation and not extending such legislation to micro-enterprises.
- removing uncertainty created by the Working Time Directive by ensuring that any new proposals (a) make it clear that there is no right to reschedule leave which is affected by sickness absence, nor to carry over leave, (b) keep the ability for individuals to opt out of the 48 hour week, and (c) keep record keeping requirements to a minimum.
- consideration as to whether the Agency Workers Directive is still necessary and amending the Directive to allow greater flexibility for individual employers and workers to reach their own arrangements.
- amending the Acquired Rights Directive to allow employees and employers more flexibility to amend contracts following the transfer of all or part of a business.
These recommendations would need to be implemented at an EU level and would mark a distinct turn in the direction of travel in recent years in relation to the development of EU employment protection rights. Therefore, the Prime Minister is likely to have his job cut out at next week's EU summit in persuading other EU leaders to adopt any of these recommendations.