Small businesses would be liberated from minimum wage and maternity pay requirements under plans proposed by Tory leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom in 2012.
In a speech in the House of Commons, Leadsom said that companies employing three employers or fewer should see any regulation scrapped.
“I envisage there being absolutely no regulation whatsoever—no minimum wage, no maternity or paternity rights, no unfair dismissal rights, no pension rights—for the smallest companies that are trying to get off the ground, in order to give them a chance,” she said, adding that if the number of employees increased then requirements would be reinstated.
The comments contrast with assertions made by the energy minister at the formal launch of her campaign yesterday.
Speaking in London on Monday, Leadsom said that worker's rights would be both “protected and enhanced” if she was selected as Prime Minister.
It comes as Conservative MPs vote for the first time on the five candidates to replace David Cameron.
The least popular candidate of the five will be removed from contention later tonight, with all those remaining given the choice to remain in the race or withdraw afterwards.
If more than two candidates remain in the race, then a second round of polling will take place on Thursday, with the process continuing until the wider Conservative membership is able to vote on the two most popular choices from MPs.