Chancellor Gordon Brown promised to introduce new measures to boost workforce productivity in his pre-Budget statement last week.
Among them are tax incentives to encourage more employees to "take a stake in their company". The Government wants to achieve a faster rise in productivity than in Britain’s major competitor countries over the next decade. Increasing employee commitment to a company’s growth will boost productivity, the Treasury said.
There will be a consultation period on allowing employees in firms which are not trading on the stock market to pay less tax when they sell their shares.
Generous tax benefits have already been introduced for staff working in wholly trading companies.
As part of the "productivity challenge", Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett will investigate the use of tax-free and free adult learning to upgrade workforce skills.
Other initiatives include:
- A pilot scheme at the start of next year to attract talented overseas staff – skilled individuals will be allowed to enter the UK if they can meet criteria on education, pay and experience,
- A "job transition service" will help employees and companies shedding large numbers of staff which will provide extra help where large-scale redundancies risk swamping the local labour market,
- The New Deal for lone parents will be extended to cover all lone parents who are not working or working less than 16 hours a week.