Posted on 26th October 2007

No Return to "Life on Mars" Employee Relations

Although the complexity of todays legislation is leaving many employers struggling with escalating employee rights, a return to the days of Gene Hunt* style employers is not an option, according to Nick Poole, partner at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks. Figures from a recent Acas report show that during the period 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007 there were 739 tribunal claims under age discrimination legislation, 12,175 for sex discrimination, 3,742 for race discrimination and 5,444 for disability discrimination. Research** has shown that 70% of UK entrepreneurs feel that the balance of power has been shifted too far in favour of employees. However, few people would want to see a return to the days of bosses like DCI Gene Hunt, as portrayed in the BBC series Life on Mars. While hugely entertaining television, the character exhibits sexist and homophobic tendencies that would be completely outlawed in todays workplace. You great soft, sissy, girly, nancy, French bender, Man Utd supporting POOF is just one of his rants to Sam Tyler, the politically correct detective from 2007 who is shocked to return to 1973, a time before much of todays employment legislation existed. Nick said: Over the last three decades we have seen an amazing amount of legislation introduced, designed to give protection to employees. In the 1970s several Acts of Parliament introduced new and complex legislation in areas such as equal pay, sex discrimination, race discrimination and health safety. Since then there have been even further extensions to UK employment law, particularly brought about by our membership of the European Union, which required changes to UK employment law. Changes have included areas such as the transfer of undertakings (TUPE), disability discrimination, national minimum wage and working time regulations. On 1st October 2006, age discrimination legislation was introduced into UK employment law for the first time. I dont think any of us would want to see a return to the likes of Gene Hunt running our businesses. However, there is no doubt that employment law is a minefield and bosses must keep up to date and be aware of their responsibilities and the rights their employees have. ENDS * BBC TV character Life on Mars ** The Tenon Forum