The chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that the government is set to review UK employment law with the aim of allowing businesses to have a more ‘flexible’ relationship with their employees.
Mr Osborne said that this was needed in order to help employers suffering financial difficulties and would therefore help support private sector growth, which in turn could then soak up any unemployment caused by the public sector cuts says a report in the Independent.
The chancellor is looking at imposing a cap on the awards that are handed out to employees for cases of such things as discrimination and abuse on the grounds of gender or race as well as making it easier gotÂ employees to be sacked. The government is also looking at a fee structure for employment tribunals to prevent vexatious claims being brought against employers. This obviously puts the employer, both private and public sector, more firmly on the driving seat.
Other measures such as reducing the consultation period for collective redundancies from 90 days to 30 days will put the unions on the back foot.
And then there is the intention of simplifying the administration of the minimum wage.
The Chancellor told the Institute of Directors, said the Independent, that the unions are “the forces of stagnation” who “will try to stand in the way of the forces of enterprise” and said that he will ‘publish a “detailed timetable for the wholesale review of employment law in this country”, to tackle the “costly impact of our employment laws and regulations”‘.
The Shadow business secretary John Denham, said that this showed that George Osborne’s only idea on the subject of stimulating growth was to cut pay and pensions and make life more insecure for workers.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary said that this was just a political attack dressed up as a growth policy and that life would be even harder for vulnerable workers.
But one wonders whether the government will find the EU upsetting their apple cart by inserting its elongated proboscis into these proposals, after all many of these employment laws are enshrined in EU law.