So what are owner-employee contracts? In his speech to the Conservative Party conference on 8 October 2012, Chancellor George Osborne set out proposals which could see employees give up employment rights in return for shares in their company and tax free gains under a new owner?employee contract.
People employed on the contract will give up their rights to claim unfair dismissal, redundancy, the right to request flexible working and time off for training. Women will also have to give 16 weeks' notice of their date of return from maternity leave, instead of the usual 8 weeks.
Owner-employee contracts are intended for "fast growing" small and medium-sized companies, although firms of any size will be able to use them. Organisations will be able to choose to only offer this type of contract for new staff from April 2013.
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, questioned whether or not many employers would actually opt to put employees on this contract, saying "We deplore any attack on maternity provision or protection against unfair dismissal, but these complex proposals do not look as if they will have very much impact as few small businesses will want to tie themselves up in the tangle of red tape necessary to trigger these exemptions?
Meanwhile, Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, welcomed the proposals, which he said had the potential to "reduce the employment law burden on companies and make employees better off at the same time".
The Government will consult on some details of the "owner-employee" contract in 2012.
For more information on owner-employee contracts please contact our employment team.