For some months I have been writing about the problems likely to be encountered in implementing the government’s proposed employee shareholder contracts, apparently a particular favourite of George Osborne. Just last month I referred to criticism from the Law Society and it now turns out that no sooner had Mr Osborne referred in the Budget to changes to facilitate the implementation of the new contractual arrangements than the whole plan was thrown out by the Lords the very next day and by a majority of 54. The contracts were initially due to be introduced on 1 April 2013 and recently put back to 1 September 2013 but it now remains to be seen whether the government will continue to push on with its plans – in the face of almost universal opposition from the full political and economic spectrum – or admit defeat. I am bound to observe that one might reasonably think that there are rather more important issues which should be occupying the government’s attention at the moment.
In the record of proceedings and along with delegating the planning functions of the Mayor of London, registration of town and village greens and development orders within the curtilage of a dwelling house (see my observations elsewhere concerning jumbled legislation) came the simple words “Clause 27 – Leave out Clause 27”, thereby at a stroke eliminating the proposals in their entirety.
Although existing employees would not have been required to sign employee shareholder contracts (and thereby forego their entitlement to employment protection), concerns had been expressed that new contracts of employment would have been offered only on this basis and that job seekers would be obliged to accept job offers on this basis, thereby steadily eroding employment rights. Perhaps ironically recent research has shown that most SME employers are far more concerned about the state of the economy and lack of lending facilities than employment rights for employees, which are generally regarded as a good thing!