Working parents will become "second-class" staff under Tory plans to palm off basic workplace rights, unions warned yesterday.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber fired off a fresh broadside against Chancellor George Osborne's latest wheeze - to swap company shares for basic protections.
He said that mothers in particular would find it "incredibly tough" to work in such conditions and could be put off applying for jobs as maternity leave would also be affected under the scheme.
Unveiled at the Tory Party conference in October, the scheme would allow companies which dole out as little as £2,000 in shares to scrap employees' rights on flexi-time, leave and even unfair dismissal and redundancy.
Critics of the scheme have said that shares would be worthless for workers facing mass layoffs as a result of failing businesses, while companies can also force a buy-back of shares after axing an employee.
And working women who seek maternity leave will have to fix their first day back 16 weeks in advance instead of the usual eight.
The scheme follows calls earlier this year to scrap flexible parental leave, led by policy adviser, campaign donor and venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft.
The coalition had insisted it will roll out the parental law changes by 2015.
"Shares for rights already looks like a party conference announcement about which little more should be heard.
"The best that can be said for it is that it will be an irrelevant scheme ignored by 99 per cent of new businesses.
"However, we are concerned that it creates an open goal for bad employers to mistreat and sack staff.
"Second-class workers may also find that their second-class shares are virtually worthless if they try to leave or are kicked out of the door.
"If the scheme does somehow take off it will be disaster for working parents and cause huge reputational damage to companies that already offer employees shares without stripping them of their rights."
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman told the Morning Star the shares-for-rights scheme would ensure "a flexible workforce.
"We know that engaged employees are more productive and motivated.
"This scheme increases the options for business and brings greater flexibility to companies and employees in determining their employment relationship."
The shares-for-rights scheme is due to take effect from April next year.
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