Little appetite for roll-back on employment rights

  • Businesses worry about the prospect of costly new obligations, no matter how well-intentioned
    Businesses worry about the prospect of costly new obligations, no matter how well-intentioned

Commenting on various Labour and Conservative proposals on worker’s rights, Nova Fairbank, Public Affairs Manager for Norfolk Chamber said:

“There is little appetite within the Norfolk business community for a roll-back of employment rights.  Businesses worry about the prospect of costly or bureaucratic new obligations, no matter how well-intentioned.

"Norfolk Chamber will watch closely as more detail emerges on the various proposals, to ensure that they do not give rise to expensive new obligations or unintended consequences - especially for the thousands of civic-minded local businesses who already do everything in their power to engage, support, train and reward their workforce.

"In the past, we have seen campaign-season promises on workplace rights create unrealistic expectations, and undermine relationships that have been painstakingly built up between firms and employees over many years. That must not be allowed to occur if some, or all, of these proposals become the law of the land.

“Some of the headline propositions in the Labour Party manifesto will give business communities across Norfolk real cause for concern. High personal taxation, sweeping nationalisation and deep intervention in business decision-making are not the hallmarks of an ambitious and enterprising society.  However, there are some bright spots in Labour’s manifesto, notably clear and specific commitments to reform Britain’s broken business rates system, which successive governments have failed to implement.

Commenting specifically on the proposals to increase the national minimum wage which is proposed by both Conservative and Labour, Mrs Fairbank said:

“Low pay and low social mobility are a challenge to the Norfolk economy, but they won’t be solved just by driving up wage rates. The best way to get a high-wage economy is through better education, training, and investment, by schools, universities and businesses alike."

“Whilst many companies would have the ability to increase pay, others would struggle to do so alongside pensions auto-enrolment, the apprenticeship levy, employer National Insurance contributions, and other up-front costs. Some may have to divert money from training and investment to increase pay, which could hurt their productivity. Others may stop hiring altogether.”

Commenting on the Lib Dem promise of £100-a-week for budding entrepreneurs

“Promising budding entrepreneurs an £100-a-week allowance to help with living costs is welcomed, as it will help support start up and entrepreneurial businesses, however these businesses still face many up front costs and taxes, including business rates.

“Norfolk Chamber believes that fundamental change to the business rates system is needed, including stripping plant and machinery from rates assessments that does so much to discourage business investment.  We would call on a future government to re-visit the detail of reform package previously discussed to address the serious concerns business ratepayers have, and as an interim fix the appeals system which is no longer fit for purpose.”


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