Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

Peer attacks 'rights for shares' proposal

A Labour peer has attacked the government's "tawdry" proposal to allow workers to take a stake in the firm they work for in exchange for forfeiting some employment rights.

Lord Monks said the government should "stop encouraging employers to show a degree of contempt for workers rights" and ditch the proposal, during question time on 19 November 2012.

Under the plans, employees would be given shares valued at between £2,000 and £50,000, which would be exempt of any capital gains tax.

Business Minister Lord Marland said it was a "terrific" voluntary scheme between employees and employers, "and surely that is the best way forward for employee relations".

But Lord Monks told peers: "Can anyone here imagine a decent employer trying to bribe workers to give up their employment rights in return for shares of questionable value?

"After all something like 50% of small firms fold within 50 years."

Liberal Democrat Lord Razzall said it was "essential" that safeguards were in place to ensure "there is no compulsion", and that employers can obtain appropriate legal advice before signing up to the scheme.

For the opposition, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said that "one person's volunteerism is another person's bullying".

And Labour peer Lord Whitty questioned how the scheme would work in practice, asking: "What are employees being asked to sell?"

Lord Marland said the opposition benches had to be careful about "bandying" around words such as "bullying" and "giving away" workers' rights.

"We're not giving away all employee's rights...it is a limited forgoing of some rights in favour of having a tax-free sharehold in the company."

SEE ALSO

Story Tools

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific