Prime minister David Cameron has announced a consultation will be launched on the proposals, which were first outlined by his deputy Nick Clegg last month.
The plans would allow employers to talk to their staff about performance issues without the details of the discussions being permissible as evidence at an employment tribunal.
It is hoped that this will make it easier for employers to address inefficiency among workers and remove the fear of frivolous legal action being taken against them, which Mr Cameron claimed is hampering job creation.
“We want businesses to create jobs. But if employers are so concerned about the prospect of being taken to tribunal that they don’t feel they can have frank conversations with their employees many companies just won’t feel able to create those jobs in the first place,” he said.
“So we will be consulting on the introduction of protected conversations, so a boss and an employee feel able to sit down together and have a frank conversation – at either’s request.”
However, questions have been raised about how the proposals would work in practice, particularly in relation to workplace discrimination legislation.
Speaking to Personnel Today, John Read, employment law editor at XpertHR, explained: “The government hasn’t specified exactly what types of claims protected conversations will relate to.
“I’d be amazed if they covered discrimination claims, but if all claims aren’t covered, that will lead to some parts of conversations being permissible as evidence and some not.
“That presents obvious difficulties and, in practice, unfair dismissal claims can be bound with allegations of discrimination.”
It follows the recent announcement of government plans to extend the amount of time an employer must have been working at an organisation before they can take an unfair dismissal claim to tribunal from one year to two.