Are workplace laws in your workplace oppressive?

The press-covered verdict is out – but a survey of construction workers reveals that just as many dislike the legislation as like it.

This article is part of a series on the longest employed occupations in the UK

The survey of the construction industry asked which legislation they dislike most.

The Construction (London Sites) Act, which came into force in 2008, was the only one of the 22 options on offer that was less popular with construction workers than they like it.

It said most people liked the architecture of the new buildings that were being built under the act and welcomed the creation of a more modern, sophisticated image for the industry.

But just 28% of construction workers polled said they did not like the act.

A University of Surrey survey earlier this year said the act made it cheaper for employers to build projects in London, but it was harder for workers to move from different parts of the country to be on site.

This forces workers to have to stay loyal to their employer.

Many people did not agree that being on site every day was a good thing.

Those polled on construction activity, when asked if they believed that being on site daily was important, 51% disagreed and 39% agreed.

A minority of people agreed: 29% agreed that the act enabled smaller companies to operate and 22% disagreed.

Architect and construction worker Sam Hanson said: “It’s unfair. We [other workers] do have to stay, but it shouldn’t be compulsory. The government is saying: ‘If you want your company to go bust, stay on site’. That’s the downside to the government.”

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The survey asked construction workers about other legislation they found inconvenient or difficult to understand, but several people said they didn’t like laws at all.

Seven out of the 22 options on the popular list were used to rule out laws disliked by more than two thirds of construction workers.

The Homes and Communities Agency Act, which lets the government intervene in the housing market, was one of these, with 80% of respondents saying they did not like it.

E-cigarettes and vaping were another example of legislation disliked by two-thirds of construction workers.

What professions are the longest-employed? Click to zoom, otherwise larger image

When asked whether they liked or disliked laws that related to the construction industry, 47% said they were neither happy nor unhappy about most laws; 40% said they were neither happy nor unhappy with just 2% saying they were happy with none.

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The higher the number of people who said they were neither happy nor unhappy with laws in a field, the higher the proportion employed in that field.

Construction workers complained most about the regulations relating to them and the offices they work in. Some 58% of construction workers said they did not like them.

The fact that more people complained about office regulations than the general public said that they were unhappy was perhaps significant, because employers and workers had different views of the effect of laws on the business.

Only 16% of construction workers believed that their working environment has an impact on their productivity while 70% said that rules surrounding health and safety had a negative effect.

Co-organiser and University of Surrey business and economics lecturer Nick Rowland said: “The short answer is: this was really just a classic anti-business poll, designed to score one-upmanship points and to disparage business.

“This is a poll that purported to measure the effects of government regulations on the construction industry but it is abundantly clear that the only laws that matter to construction workers are the laws that affect their employers.”

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