Workplace Rights and Employee Ownership

On behalf of the members of the Employee Ownership Association, Chief Executive Iain Hasdell has written an open letter to Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, expressing concerns about recent developments in the Government’s approach to growing the number of employee owners in the economy.

Following the publication of the Nuttall Review earlier this year, a new consultation “Implementing Employee Owner Status” was launched by Ms Swinson on 18 October, closing 8 November. You can read our formal response to the consultation here.

The Department for Communities and Local Government introduced The Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Bill for its first reading in the House of Commons on 18 October – containing proposals to create “a new employment status ‘employee-owner’ in order to increase the range of employment options businesses may use as they grow and adapt their workforce.” This in practice means legislation to promote a model in which workers rights on such matters as redundancy and unfair dismissal are removed, in return for tax breaks on shares they might own in a business in which they work. The Bill’s second reading took place on Monday 5 November – more details here. The Bill Committee sits from 13th November to 6 December.

Our Members have three main concerns on the new proposals:

  • Firstly, proposed legislation appeared in a Bill before the Government consultation on the possibility of deploying this model of employee ownership had finished.
  • Secondly, our Members are very aware that there is no need to reduce the rights of workers in order to grow employee ownership and no data to suggest that doing so would significantly boost the number of employee owners. Indeed all of the evidence is that employee ownership in the UK is growing and the businesses concerned thriving, because they enhance not dilute the working conditions and entitlements of employee owners.
  • Thirdly, the appearance of this measure in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill appears to our Members to be completely disconnected to the recommendations in the Nuttall Review. That Review contained a series of recommendations on how to grow employee ownership and none of those recommendations suggested the dilution of worker rights.

If you are a member, please contact us at if you would like to discuss the EOA response.