Gordon Brown’s incoming government faces a key test this week when unions are expected to call for workers to be given full employment rights from the day they join a company.
Delegates at the GMB congress in Brighton will vote on a motion to demand employers take on full legal responsibilities for workers as soon as they hire them.
Employers’ groups said the calls would present the government with a crucial decision to make as it sets out its position.
David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at manufacturers’ body the EEF, told Personnel Today: “The unions are going to put a lot of pressure on the incoming government to change direction on several issues, and this is a top priority for them.
“This is a touchstone for the new government. It will be a clear indication of its general attitude towards employment legislation.”
Trade unions are angry that Tony Blair’s government failed to tackle the right of businesses to dismiss workers within a year without having to answer charges of unfair dismissal. They hope Brown will usher in a new era.
The GMB motion states: “Congress demands that the government stops pandering to the CBI and acts immediately to introduce the regulations to give UK workers full employment rights from day one of their employment.”
The CBI insisted that workers were already well protected, with the minimum wage kicking in on the day they join, and discrimination outlawed from the moment they apply for a job. It added that bosses needed a year to judge the ability of new employees before facing tribunals if they sacked them.
The EEF added that allowing employees full rights from day one would significantly damage the labour market, and increase employers’ costs.