The TUC has warned that the proposals outlined in the recently published Beecroft would turn the clock back on employees’ rights and damaging equality in the workplace should they be implemented.

Published in full for the first time on May 21st, the government-commissioned report compiled by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft suggests reforming a number of key areas of employment law, arguing that this will reduce the burden of red tape on businesses and lead to greater recruitment levels.

Proposals include allowing small businesses to sack underperforming staff without the employee having the option to launch an unfair dismissal claim – so-called ‘no-fault dismissals’.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber claimed such proposals could turn those working for smaller firms into “second-class citizens”.

“Mr Beecroft’s original report called for staff in small firms to lose unfair dismissal, pension, flexible working, parental leave, gangmaster and equal pay rights,” he said.

“While he has been beaten back on some of these – such as his proposal to let small firms employ children on an unrestricted basis, no doubt wanting to get his own back against Victorian chimney sweep red tape – many threats remain.”

The TUC has now launched a new campaign aimed at fighting what it sees as an erosion of workers’ rights.

Launching the Employee Rights Stop Employment Wrongs campaign, a photo opportunity was held last week featuring a backwards clock face and Victorian-dressed workers.

“We have made steady progress in the UK in securing a floor of minimum rights at work for all. But they are hardly generous. The OECD shows that among the world’s 36 most prosperous countries, only workers in the USA have poorer rights than UK employees,” said Mr Barber.

“However, the clock is now turning backwards. Already people have to wait two years before getting protection against unfair dismissal.”

Meanwhile, the EEF manufacturing this week also voiced opposition to some of the proposals made by the Beecroft report – in particular those related to no-fault dismissals.

“We’ve found little support from industry for introducing no-fault dismissal, its benefits look pretty limited and we’ve seen no evidence that it would increase recruitment,” said the organisation.