The pendulum swings

There’s been this pendulum effect going on for years.

Fifteen years ago (let’s say) the pendulum was firmly on the side of the employer – hiring and firing was easier and it was up to the employee to prove any accusation of wrong doing.

I’m all for fairness in the workplace… no, really I am, and change was needed to redress the balance. After all, a well treated and managed workforce will generally be more motivated and this translates to the bottom line – the bit we’re all interested in.

But sometimes it seems that someone, somewhere… and I have an image in my mind of some rumple suited, faceless bureaucrat in Brussels… is trying to shaft industry in general and Enterprise Britain in particular.

Here’s the reason for my rant:

Last week a court case was decided (Stringer vs HMRC, if you’re interested) that could have huge ramifications for Enterprise Britain. Essentially the decision says that people on long-term sick now accrue their holidays whilst off. This means that when they return to work their employer either has to pay them for their holidays when they were off or let them take them. If the employee leaves then they are entitled to be paid for holidays accrued.

The cost ramifications for Enterprise Britain are huge. Do you have anyone off on long-term sick at the moment? How much will it cost you when they return to work?

I was talking to a friend about this last week. She’s dealing with a case where the employee has been off work for six years. Their contract says they are entitled to twenty five days holiday a year and the employer has to pay them nearly eleven grand as a result of their employment terminating.

Okay, that’s a huge payout. But even if you haven’t got anyone on long-term sick at the moment (and there’s no definition of how long ‘long-term’ sickness actually is) there’s something else to think about.

The view of the legal world is that businesses should be reviewing their contracts and policies to take into consideration this ruling: these have to be discussed, written, consulted on and implemented, which all adds up to time and money.

The problem I have with all of this is not holiday pay per se, it’s more about the effect it has on Enterprise Britain. You see, the decisions made by these people, and although the decision was made in a British court room, let’s face it, it’s a European thing, very rarely take into consideration the effect it has on Enterprise Britain. It’s all very well penalising big business like this, but the smaller businesses get caught in the net, too.

And where’s it all going to end?

Who knows..? I heard on the radio this morning that there’s a proposal to make two weeks Grand Parental leave compulsory!

Yes, you heard it right… but that’s for next time!

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