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Are you 'confident and covered' or 'unaware and exposed'?

According to new research published this week by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) there are significant disparities between many businesses in the UK with regard to their confidence and awareness of managing employment law.

The study revealed some interesting insights.

  • Almost a third (32%) of the managers involved in the study felt confident in their understanding of employment law and their role as an employer.
  • More than a third (34%) felt that employment law obligations were ‘not relevant’ to their business.
  • 20% reported that they understand their obligations, but worry about whether they have got it right or wrong. 

Lord YoungEmployment Relations Minister Lord Young acknowledged that running a business is both challenging and rewarding and went on to say:

"...that this combination often fuels a successful enterprise. The essential job of managing employment law need not be one of these challenges. This study helps us identify the knowledge gap, and the reasons behind this, to enable us to continue to improve the advice and support we offer."

Petra WiltonCommenting on how businesses have different approaches to employment law, Petra Wilton, Director of Policy and Research at the Chartered Management Institute said:

“...what really matters is for business leaders to realise that managing employment law is a key responsibility of theirs. No one is asking them to be an expert, but it is essential that they seek out and use appropriate information so that informed decisions can be reached”.

The study also uncovered variations in the way that male and female business owners manage employment law.

Women placed greater emphasis on keeping up to date with the latest developments in employment law and worried more about getting it wrong.  Over half (54%) of women felt that it was important to keep informed of changes, compared to 38% of men.

Over a quarter of male business owners (26%) admitted that they did not keep up to date with employment legislation, compared to a fifth of women (21%). However, only 17% of men worried about dealing with employment law incorrectly, as opposed to 26% of women.

Taking the sample as a whole, almost half (42%) considered it ‘important’ to stay up to date yet 25% admitted that they did not do so.

A further 28% were only ‘vaguely aware’ of their legal obligations and felt that they were unable to find the time to keep abreast of their legal obligations.


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