Workers Rights

A fair deal at work

Work should provide people with security and fulfilment. But for too many people, work is insecure and does not make ends meet. The Conservatives boast about the recovery of employment, but our labour market is failing. Real-terms pay is still lower than before the crash, and jobs are increasingly low-skilled and insecure.

A Labour government will invest in enforcement through a new Ministry of Labour and empower workers and their trade unions – because we are stronger when we stand together.

So we will review the rules on union recognition so that more workers have the security of a union.

At the same time as strengthening workers’ rights, we will make work more fulfilling by using public investment to upgrade our economy and create high-quality jobs.

Rights at work

The next Labour government will bring in a 20-point plan for security and equality at work:

  1. Give all workers equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent – so that working conditions are not driven down.
  2. Ban zero hours contracts – so that every worker gets a guaranteed number of hours each week.
  3. Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home – because it causes divisions when one workforce is used against another.
  4. Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining – because the most effective way to maintain good rights at work is collectively through a union.
  5. Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces – so that unions can speak to members and potential members.
  6. Propose four new public holidays – bringing our country together to mark our four national patron saints’ days. These will be additional to statutory holiday entitlement so that workers in Britain get the same proper breaks as in other countries.
  7. Raise the Minimum Wage to the level of the Living Wage (expected to be at least £10 per hour by 2020) – for all workers aged 18 or over, so that work pays.
  8. End the Public Sector Pay Cap – because public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.
  9. Amend the takeover code to ensure every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners – because workers shouldn’t suffer when a company is sold.
  10. Roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector and in companies bidding for public contracts – because it cannot be right that wages at the top keep rising while everyone else’s stagnates.
  11. Ban unpaid internships – because it’s not fair for some to get a leg up when others can’t afford to.
  12. Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work – so that all workers can be supported when negotiating with their employer.
  13. Abolish employment tribunal fees – so that people have access to justice.
  14. Double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay – because fathers are parents too and deserve to spend more time with their new babies.
  15. Strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy Ð because no one should be penalised for having children.
  16. Hold a public inquiry into blacklisting – to ensure that blacklisting truly becomes and remains a thing of the past.
  17. Give equalities reps statutory rights – so they have time to protect workers from discrimination.
  18. Reinstate protection against third party harassment – because everyone deserves to be safe at work.
  19. Use public spending power to drive up standards, including only awarding public contracts to companies which recognise trade unions.
  20. Introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing – so that all workers have fair access to employment and promotion opportunities and are treated fairly at work.

All workers should be able to work in a safe environment and return to their families at the end of the day. Labour will enforce regulations that save lives.

As well as legislating against zero-hours contracts, there are many more workers on short hours contracts (some only guaranteed a few hours per week), but who regularly work far more.

We will strengthen the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours.

We will also scrap the changes brought in by the Conservatives in 2014 to TUPE, which weakened the protections for workers transferring between contractors, and we will abolish the loophole to the agency workers regulations known as the Swedish derogation.

We will consult with employers and trade unions on legislating for statutory bereavement leave, for time off work after the loss of close family members. We will also consult on toughening the law against assaulting workers who have to enforce laws such as age-related sales or ticketing arrangements, and who face regular abuse.

Labour will maintain the ACAS Early Conciliation System to try to solve workplace issues efficiently, and we will protect the current compromise on Sunday trading hours.

Labour will also legislate to permit secure online and workplace balloting for industrial action votes and internal union elections.

Workers in Britain are among the easiest and cheapest to make redundant, meaning when multinational companies are taking decisions to downsize that British workers are at a disadvantage. We will consult with trade unions and industry on reviewing redundancy arrangements to bring workers in Britain more into line with their European counterparts.

Self-employed workers

Self-employment can bring many benefits, freedoms and flexibilities to people – and is a vital and often entrepreneurial sector of our economy.

But there is also mounting evidence that workers are being forced into self-employment by unscrupulous employers to avoid costs and their duties to workers. Labour will clamp down on bogus self-employment by:

  • Shifting the burden of proof, so that the law assumes a worker is an employee unless the employer can prove otherwise.
  • Imposing punitive fines on employers not meeting their responsibilities, helping to deter others from doing the same.
  • Involving trade unions in enforcement, e.g. by giving them a seat on the executive board of the new Ministry of Labour.
  • Giving the Ministry of Labour the resources to enforce all workers’ rights.
  • Banning payroll companies, sometimes known as umbrella companies, which create a false structure to limit employers’ tax liabilities and limit workers’ rights.
  • Giving employment agencies and end-users joint responsibility for ensuring that the rights of agency workers are enforced.
  • Rolling out sectoral collective bargaining and strengthening trade union rights, because empowering people to claim their own rights in the workplace is the most effective means of enforcement.

We would also extend the rights of employees to all workers, including shared parental pay, making a substantial and immediate difference to the quality of life of people in insecure work. But there are real concerns that rapid changes to the world of work are rendering existing employment categories outdated.

Labour recognises that the law often struggles to keep up with the ever-changing new forms of employment and work, so we will set up a dedicated commission to modernise the law around employment status. New statutory definitions of employment status would reduce the need for litigation and improve compliance.

The commission will be led by legal and academic experts with representation from industry and trade unions.

Link to full manifesto (PDF)

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