Employment rights give away could increase red tape

Irwin Mitchell employment lawyer Liesel Whitfield
Irwin Mitchell employment lawyer Liesel Whitfield
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Plans to introduce controversial new laws that allow workers to give up basic employee rights in exchange for shares in their company are unnecessary and potentially damaging to the economy, according to Sheffield employment expert Liesel Whitfield.

Proposals contained in the Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Bill, allow businesses to award shares worth between £2,000 and £50,000 to staff who give up unfair dismissal, redundancy, training and flexible working rights.

Liesel Whitfield, from the Sheffield office of law firm, Irwin Mitchell, says the proposals are “almost universally unpopular.”

“I have always queried this proposal and questioned whether it is really about encouraging productivity and rewarding effort or, instead, part of a drive to make the removal of employment rights more palatable,” she says.

“There is a fear that this is not about helping employers but something which is ideologically driven.‎

“The principle of boosting employee participation and commitment in line with the success of a business is a good idea, but there are numerous reasons why this version of that concept is unlikely to find favour with either employers or employees.”

Liesel Whitfield says that, from an employee perspective, the economic climate is still uncertain and performance is not guaranteed.

From an employer’s perspective, the scheme – primarily aimed at SMEs - threatens to create a combination of complicated shareholder arrangements and tax provisions, increasing red tape and costs.