Cameron's war on employment rights

Prime Minister backs plans to make sacking workers easier

The Government is to curb workplace rights in an attempt to cut red tape for business and boost Britain's anaemic economic growth levels.

The consultation period when 20 or more redundancies are announced could be reduced from 90 to just 30 days to give companies more flexibility to cut jobs – a move that will be opposed by trade unions. After lobbying by business leaders, the number of cases going to employment tribunals will be cut.

And David Cameron is backing a controversial proposal to allow firms to sack poorly performing staff without an explanation. The idea, proposed in a review for Downing Street by Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist and Conservative Party donor, has run into strong opposition from the Liberal Democrats and caused a rift at the top of the Coalition.

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, insist there is no evidence that ending unfair dismissal claims would help the economy. They have warned it could backfire by depressing consumer spending if employees fear the sack.

The deadlock between the Coalition parties means the plan is unlikely to go ahead immediately. Instead, further work on its impact will be commissioned. Mr Beecroft proposed that companies be allowed to dismiss "coasting" workers without being taken to an employment tribunal – provided they were paid compensation. Senior Liberal Democrats condemned the move as a return to "Victorian employment practices".

Today Mr Cable will set out other reforms which were agreed by the Cabinet yesterday. They include bringing in "protected conversations" between an employer and worker to discuss issues such as poor performance without this being used later in any tribunal claim.

In a speech to the Engineering Employers' Association, the Business Secretary will unveil plans to streamline employment tribunals. He will confirm the qualifying period for workers to be able to claim unfair dismissal will rise from one to two years' service next April.

Mr Cable will argue that the present tribunal system is not working. Some 218,000 claims were made last year – a rise of 44 per cent in two years – and the Government is worried about the strain on small firms.

In future, all claims will go to the arbitration service Acas for "pre-claim conciliation" before reaching a tribunal. A rapid resolution scheme will provide quicker, cheaper decisions in simple cases. The changes could save employers more than £40m.

Mr Cable's most controversial proposal will be to suggest the current 90-day consultation period for redundancies could be reduced to 60, 45 or 30 days. "Evidence suggests that the current 90-day period is too restrictive for businesses," a government source said.

Unions reacted angrily last night. Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "Reducing the time that organisations have to consult their employees whose jobs are at risk of redundancy flies in the face of good sense. The move will have little impact on the company but it will make a huge difference to staff worried about their futures, increasing their stress at what can be a hugely traumatic time."

Mr Barber added: "Reducing protection for people at work will not save or create a single job. It's not employment law that is holding firms back; it's the tough economic climate and the problems companies are having getting the banks to lend to them that are to blame."

But Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We welcome the Government's reform proposals, which respond directly to business concerns."

The shake-up is part of a package to coincide with next week's Autumn Statement by the Chancellor, George Osborne. Yesterday, figures showed that public borrowing was £6.5bn last month, about £1.2bn lower than in October last year. But corporation tax receipts were lower than expected.

Power cut: How report would hit workers

Under proposals in the Beecroft report, which was leaked last month, the concept of "unfair dismissal" would be scrapped and workers would only be able to take a company to an employment tribunal for discrimination.

Instead they would be paid normal redundancy – without the need for the company to prove an employee was surplus to requirements.

The report says that under current regulations, workers are allowed to "coast along" and employers are fearful of expanding because new staff may prove "unknown quantities" who are then impossible to sack.

The report concludes that there is nothing in European law that would prevent the Government from abandoning unfair dismissal laws.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone