Lord Young has revealed that he is considering extending the amount of time an employee must work for their employer before they can claim for unfair dismissal from the current one year to two years, in an attempt to reduce fictitious claims from former members of staff who have a grudge against their employer”.

The change is being considered as part of a far-reaching review intended to look into ways in which the Government can bolster small businesses by reducing the “regulatory and bureaucratic burdens which increase costs and hassle”.

Speaking on Radio 4′s Today programme, Lord Young explained: “I want to find out what small business people themselves think about this and then we’ll think about it.”

However, his remarks have provoked criticism from many quarters, with some fearing that it could prove to be a regressive step for employee rights.

Employment law editor at XPertHR John Read stated: “it would mean that, provided they did not unlawfully discriminate or dismiss for an automatically unfair reason, employers could sack staff for whatever reason they wanted prior to two years’ service.”

Although still a long way from becoming law, it looks as though the proposed change will be a contentious one, and it is likely to face a great deal of opposition from trade unions and employee rights organisations.