As the general election looms closer, the CIPD has warned that regulatory reform should not be the foundation stone of labour market election promises.

The warning arises from a study ‒ Employment Regulation and the Labour Market ‒ commissioned by the CIPD. A core finding is that the UK’s relatively large army of independent professionals freelancing and contracting through Umbrella Companies means that the country’s flexible labour market is generally working well on a series of broad measures in comparison with international peers.

At 65%, the UK has a higher proportion of good-quality jobs ‒ and a smaller percentage of low-quality jobs ‒ than the EU average. Italy has 54% of jobs rated as good quality, France has 50% and Spain has 49%.

The CIPD’s head of public policy, Ben Willmott, said that calls for tougher regulation and employee protections from the trade unions, and opposing calls for reduced regulatory burdens for employers, were wide of the mark.

UK workers were more satisfied with their jobs than their international counterparts, he said. The UK’s problems – relatively poor productivity and a high proportion of low-paid, low-skilled jobs ‒ were not susceptible to “quick legislative fixes”.

Mr Willmott urged policymakers to eschew regulatory change, adding: “Instead, what we need is a fundamental review of the UK’s skills policy to understand how we can generate more high-skilled jobs and better progression routes for those in low-skilled and low-paid jobs. We also need a much greater focus on improving workplace practices in the areas of leadership, management and HR capability to increase demand among employers to invest in workforce development.”

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