Tue Oct 9th, 2012 at 06:48:05 AM EST
I try to ignore the Tory government, but the stuff coming out of their conference this week is pretty terrifying: fracking, more austerity, more tabloid friendly crime policies. The scariest may be the proposal to remove employee rights in exchange for tax-free shares in companies.
New owner-employees will exchange some of their UK employment rights for rights of ownership in the form of shares in the business they work for, any gains on which will be exempt from capital gains tax.
Companies of any size will be able to use this new kind of contract, but it is principally intended for fast growing small and medium sized companies that want to create a flexible workforce.
Under the new type of contract, employees will be given between £2,000 and £50,000 of shares that are exempt from capital gains tax. In exchange, they will give up their UK rights on unfair dismissal, redundancy, and the right to request flexible working and time off for training, and will be required provide 16 weeks’ notice of a firm date of return from maternity leave, instead of the usual 8.
Owner-employee status will be optional for existing employees, but both established companies and new start-ups can choose to offer only this new type of contract for new hires. Companies recruiting owner-employees will continue to have the option of inserting more generous employment conditions into the employment contract if they want to. (HM Treasury)
The principle here is terrible: your employment rights can be bought out. The implementation could be even worse - for a start, shares in private unlisted companies have no obvious market value. They have no useful voting rights, since the majority of the shares will be held by a small number of owners in almost all cases.
What happens when your JobSearch centre sends you for an interview to one of these companies and you're offered a job? Refuse it and your benefits will be cut or withdrawn, accept it and you surrender your rights in exchange for a possibly - probably - worthless share in a company that may not make any profits at all.
I wouldn't normally be too worried, beyond the standard issue despair, but this is just the sort of brilliant "reform" to promote "labour flexibility" that will be hailed by the Free Market Cultists across Europe. Coming to a labour contract near you, soon.