Unions have rounded on the government over plans to water down workers' rights to "make it easier for businesses to grow".
Lib Dem minister Ed Davey will announce the new areas of employment legislation up for review at the Institute for Economic Affairs as the government attempts to clear away restrictions for employers.
It will consult on cutting compensation payments for discrimination, reducing the current 90-day timescale for firms to consult over job losses, and changing the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (Tupe) which protects the pay and conditions of public sector workers transferred between companies.
One law firm has warned that the move will disadvantage women and ethnic minority workers.
The government is already simplifying the employment tribunal system, looking at extending the period before an unfair dismissal claim can be brought and reviewing the system for managing sickness absence.
Speaking ahead of his speech, Davey said: "The areas we are reviewing are priorities for employers. We want to make it easier for businesses to take on staff and grow. We will be looking carefully at the arguments for reform. Fairness for individuals will not be compromised – but where we can make legislation easier to understand, improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy we will."
While the announcement was hailed by business leaders as evidence that the government was removing barriers to job creation, the proposals were panned by unions.
Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said the level of compensation for discrimination currently in place were to help ensure employers act fairly towards their staff, as were the other laws in place to offer staff protection.
High levels of compensation for discrimination were only awarded in "severe cases", he added.
"It is right that people who have lost out through the unfair practices of their employer receive proper compensation – and that helps ensure employers act fairly in the first place. "Taking a discrimination case is not easy and requires expert legal advice. It is the employer equivalent of the urban myth that there are myriad vexatious claims. Making it easier to make people redundant and giving the workforce less time to come up with alternatives to job losses threatens to make unemployment even worse."
Paul Griffin of law firm DBS Law said there had been an increase in claims of discrimination in the last six months due to employers not following correct procedure in a "mad dash" to reduce head count ahead of another downturn in the economy.
"Cutting compensation to victims of discrimination will not deter vexatious claims," he said. "The only effect will be to reward bad employers who disadvantage women and ethnic minority workers, legitimising an unpleasant trend in employment practice."
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the country's biggest trade union, Unite, accused ministers of being "small minded".
"The business department under Vince Cable's supine direction is cultivating a disgraceful reputation as a 'do nothing' department when it comes to saving jobs, let alone creating the tens of thousands needed, especially for those aged 16 to 24," said McCluskey.
"If the 90-day consultation period is swept away, giving workers and companies a small window in which they can save jobs, then this shameful reputation will be cemented. And where exactly is the job creation dividend to be garnered from dismantling Tupe? These regulations offer only slender protection on pay as it is — they can do nothing to protect a worker's pension during takeover, but they can help to retain much-needed standards in the workplace."
All this confirms to me again that this government want to destroy the public sector making cuts easier to happen. With spineless unions and labour councils across the country no doubt this will be music to their ears so they can get rid of workers a lot quickera nd easier.
To me its highly shameful and i see no union putting up any fight on this matter. Only by explaining what it will do isnt enough Mr Barber. Get up off your ass and defend your members rights and stop this new attack on the workers.