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Cable calls plans to cut employment red tape "complete nonsense"

by LLB Reporter
22nd May 12 9:42 am

Business secretary Vince Cable has hit out at plans to trim back labour rights and make it easier for companies to fire under-performing staff.

Cable labelled the plans to cut employment red tape as “complete nonsense” in an attack on rival MPs who are expected to support the proposals.

The prominent Liberal Democrat cabinet minister said he was against the “ideological zealots who want to encourage British firms to fire at will”.

Cable’s comments were made ahead of a far-reaching study by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft which is believed to recommend a number of bold employment reforms.

“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,” said Cable, writing in The Sun. “This is complete nonsense.”

He continued: “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.”

Prime minister David Cameron commissioned the study, which is expected to call for businesses to be offered greater scope to make people redundant and ease equality rules to stimulate job creation.

The Tories are expected to welcome a number of the proposals and Cameron could offer his backing despite the disappointment expressed by the business secretary.

Cameron said the government wanted to make it easier for firms to employ people and grow, but said he had not decided on any single plan.

The prime minister said: “I am not particularly wedded to one set of proposals or another, but as part of our growth and enterprise agenda we should be open to all thinking about what can make that process easier, to which this is clearly a contribution.”

Michael Scutt, a solicitor at City of London-based Dale Langley & Co said the reported proposals were unnecessary and were an attempt by the government to distract from poor GDP figures.

“I think most well-run businesses are able to deal with employment law. We have one of the most flexible labour markets in the world, certain in Western Europe.

“It is an easy scapegoat for the government to blame employment law for poor growth figures.”

Scutt continued: “Employment law is complicated but the idea that it is stopping growth is nonsense. The government needs to be seen to be doing something and it seems attacking the rights of individuals is a way of doing that.

“The risk is – and the Liberal Democrats say this – you will introduce a ‘hire and fire’ mentality which will be counter-productive because workers fear they might be kicked out of their jobs and so won’t be spending on big ticket items.”

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