The 90-day consultation period before large-scale redundancies can take place is to be cut to 45 days, the government revealed yesterday.

The move would help both businesses and workers, claimed Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson.

But the move has been criticised and the TUC said:  "Making it easier to sack people is the last thing we need."

Swinson said a consultation process had produced strong support for the changes and added: "The process is usually completed well within the existing 90-day minimum period, which can cause unnecessary delays for restructuring, and make it difficult for those affected to get new jobs quickly.

"Our reforms will strike an appropriate balance between making sure employees are engaged in decisions about their future and allowing employers greater certainty and flexibility to take necessary steps to restructure."