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UK – Controversial employment plans criticised as “bonkers” and “nonsense” by politician

22 May 2012

A leaked Downing Street report on proposed employment law reforms was allegedly denounced by Business Secretary Vince Cable as “bonkers” while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also uttered his dismay at the controversial plans, which aim to make dismissals easier and relax equality rules in a bid to boost jobs. Both Mr Cable and Mr Clegg are members of the Liberal Democrat party which formed the current government in alliance with the Conservative Party.

Mr Cable said in The Sun, that “Some people think that if labour rights were stripped down to the most basic minimum, employers would start hiring and the economy would soar again. This is complete nonsense.”

“British workers are an asset, not just a cost for company bosses. That is why I am opposed to the ideological zealots who want to encourage British firms to fire at will,” he added.

It has also emerged that Nick Clegg did never support plans to make the firing of staff easier, a key proposal in the report. Speaking at a conference yesterday, he said “I don't support them and I never have. I've not seen any evidence that creating industrial-scale insecurity amongst millions of workers is a way of securing new jobs.”

The report by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron, proposes various controversial changes to employment law and seems to have already split the coalition party.

The report suggests an end to a mandatory 90-day consultation period when a firm is considering redundancy programmes, proposing a standard 30-day period instead. It also proposes a cap on loss-of-earnings compensation for staff making successful discriminatory dismissal claims while it also intends to scrap provisions in the Equality Act, which makes employers liable for ‘third party harassment’.

Other proposals include a reform of the rights that workers are allowed to “carry” to new employers when their companies are the subject of a takeover. It also suggests to shift responsibility for checking foreign workers' eligibility to work in the UK from employers to the Border Agency or the Home Office. 

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