A leaked government report which suggests companies should be allowed to sack unproductive workers would be a blueprint for nasty bosses to exploit, unions said on Wednesday.
The idea of reforming employment laws to give companies the right to sack someone without explanation so they can hire someone better instead is included in a report commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The newspapaper, which said it had seen the unpublished report by venture capitalist and Conservative Party supporter Adrian Beecroft, added Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were understood to back the idea to boost economic growth.
Downing Street said it did not comment on leaked reports.
The rules both make it difficult to prove that someone deserves to be dismissed, and demand a process for doing so which is so lengthy and complex that it is hard to implement, the Telegraph quoted the report as saying.
This makes it too easy for employees to claim they have been unfairly treated and to gain significant compensation.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said getting rid of unfair dismissal protection would do nothing to boost the economy and would horrify employees.
Indeed if people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs it will lead consumers to spend even less, he said.
But while this proposal does nothing for growth, it does show the kind of economy those close to the prime minister want to create -- one in which nasty bosses are given full licence to undermine those trying to maintain decent standards.
The government has already announced reforms to the rules for employment tribunals to prevent workers making an unfair dismissal claim in their first two years in the job -- rather than one year as at present -- saying the current system was a deterrent for small businesses.
However, the paper said any move to completely abandon unfair dismissal laws, which Beecroft said were particularly abused in the public sector, would meet strong opposition from the Liberal Democrats.
The government is committed to reforming employment law, supporting business, encouraging growth, while at the same time ensuring that we do not weaken the employment rights of workers up and down the country, a Downing Street spokesman said.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)