THE Government has announced it plans to ease the regulatory burden on small businesses by reviewing the staggering 22,000 regulations which affect them – while also committing to remove two specific rights due to come into force imminently.

The Labour Government had previously introduced a right for employees to request unpaid time off to train during their normal contractual hours. Initially, this was to apply only to those employers with over 250 members of staff. It has now been decided that the right will not be extended to smaller employers as previously planned.

There were also proposals to extend flexible working rights for all employees further with effect from April, 2011.

The current rights allow parents to make a request to work flexibly if they have a child under the age of 16 or are caring for an adult.

It was expected that the right would be extended to children up to the age of 18, but it has been confirmed that this will not be implemented.

Beyond this, the Government has committed to reviewing the overwhelming amount of regulations which affect businesses and which have a particularly burdensome impact on small employers.

In the Budget, it was announced that the Government proposes to introduce a moratorium on new regulations for up to three years for those who employ fewer than 10 staff.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has carried out research into the current Employment Tribunal system, asking for employer’s views. The most significant findings of the research are:

l Half of employers would support a tribunal system which awards costs against losing claimants and a similar number wish to see more effective management of tribunal cases to identify vexatious claims

l Over half of employers reported that a complaint to a tribunal had been made against them maliciously with 60% stating that their former employees, in making an unfair dismissal claim, had “tagged on” a discrimination claim simply in the hope of achieving more compensation

l Most worryingly, 69% of respondents felt they had no effective protection against employees making unjustifiable claims to an employment tribunal.

The findings also show a significant amount of management time is being used in trying to manage and resolve workplace disputes, and the use of compromise agreements is on the increase as businesses try to fully protect themselves against claims.

A CIPD adviser commented: “This survey reflects the strength of feeling among employers about the failings of the current system for resolving workplace disputes.

“The real problem is that the employment tribunal system itself is broken and its costs and benefits are wholly out of line”.

The Government has already launched a consultation paper on reforming the tribunal system.

The closing date for comments is April 28, 2011.

The paper can be accessed via