Workshop: Personal Trainer

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to: stephen.bubb@haynet.com

Q: I am aware that a lot more red tape and regulations are coming into force. What exactly are they and how can I avoid them?

A: The beginning of October saw some of the biggest changes in employment law for a decade, and the CBI has been complaining about red tape and warning that small businesses could fall foul of the new laws. But our sector takes a different view - we welcome them, and you should not be avoiding them.

These new arrangements are very timely and ought not to cause us too many problems. But what are they?

- Dispute-resolution regulations, establishing new statutory minimum dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures

- A new version of the ACAS Code of Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures

- A widening of the duty to make reasonable adjustments to workplaces for disabled people, including organisations with fewer than 15 people

- Changes to procedural rules in equal pay claims at tribunals

- New tribunal rules, revising and simplifying arrangements

- An increase in the adult hourly minimum wage and a new rate for school leavers.

A full list of these new rules can be found at www.dti.gov.uk.

Many of my members tell me they are feeling increasingly hamstrung by regulations and red tape. This is particularly true of the funding and contracting arrangements we have with government.

However, let us keep this in proportion. And let us also remember that these new arrangements are about protecting the rights of staff generally and disabled people in particular.

The changes for disabled workers are particularly welcome. Surely, whatever size of organisation we are, we should be ensuring our workplaces are accessible? Many charities have campaigned for legislative change to enhance the rights of disabled people. We can't whinge now they are here.

I would advise that you look at the new arrangements for dismissal and disciplinary action. There is a new three-step procedure to follow. If it is not followed, a dismissal will be ruled unfair and any additional compensation could be increased by up to 50 per cent.

The recent increase in charity cases coming before employment tribunals doesn't mean our treatment of staff is worse than other sectors. But it does emphasise the need for us to dust off our HR handbooks and ensure they meet the new arrangements.

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