Smart politics keeps businesses guessingOn 7 Mar 2000 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Another week, another drama involving the implementation of employment law –this week it’s Part-Timers Revisited.Unfortunately the sticking point this time is of a fundamental nature – justwho counts as a part-timer for the purposes of the directive? The twodefinitions on offer are either part-time employees or part-time workers. Tomost of us the two phrases are interchangeable but since lawyers have beeninvolved it has not been that simple. The latest understanding is that the termemployee relates purely to someone on a standard contract whereas the termworker could apply to a whole range of people – freelancers, contract staff andso on.All well and pedantic, but the problem is the Government has not made up itsmind which way to jump. Speaking before a select committee meeting on thedirective last week employment minister Alan Johnson confirmed the Governmenthad not taken a position yet, and would not do so until the legislation isbefore Parliament. This is smart politicking on Labour’s part – by not showingits hand now it can keep the employers’ organisations and unions in check. TheIoD and TUC, from polar opposite standpoints, have warned about making thewrong decision on part-timers, but these warnings lack real bite until thepolicy is unveiled.The real problem is businesses are going to be left guessing until the lastminute exactly what they will have to do. This will be, frankly, a pain in thebackside as the directive could either cover large swathes of part-timers orhardly any at all. And worse still, firms will get just one month to implementthe directive.The only cause for concern is the gut feeling that Labour, nowsuper-sensitive to the needs of business, will not risk expanding the remit ofthe directive overnight. The embarrassment of getting a ticking off fromemployers’ organisations will be keenly felt at Millbank whereas ear-bashingsfrom the TUC seem to be shrugged off these days. Indeed the TUC’s pre-emptivethreat of legal action if it does not win the argument could be read as anearly admission of defeat.But which HR department is going to want to prepare for implementing majoremployment legislation by second-guessing who the Labour Party does not want tooffend the most this week – and, more to the point, why on earth should theyhave to? Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.