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Labour’s Green Paper on Employment Rights includes flexible working as the default and day one rights to everything from sick pay to parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal.
Labour will introduce a new right to flexible working as the default, protections for those with caring responsibilities and a right to switch off, according to its Green Paper on Employment Rights launched at its party conference in Brighton.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary for the Future of Work, told the conference that the party’s New Deal for Working People would be signed into law within 100 days of Labour coming into power. The proposals on flexible working come after the Government opened a consultation on making the right to request flexible working a day one right, but fell short of making it the default.
The Green Paper outlines plans to give all workers rights from day one in their jobs – to sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal. It says the party will create one, single worker status and ban ‘bogus’ self-employment and zero hours contracts. Rayner said: “You are either a worker or you’re genuinely self-employed, and either way we will change your working life for the better. We will not only ban zero hour contracts but ensure all contracts come with minimum hours and reflect normal working life, requiring notice of shift changes and pay when they are cancelled at the last minute.”
The Green Paper also outlines Labour’s plans for Fair Pay Agreements. These will bring together representatives of workers and employers to negotiate pay and conditions in every sector. Rayner said: “Collective bargaining in every sector will end the free market free-for-all that encourages undercutting, exploitation and a race to the bottom. It will give workers and their representatives a legally enforceable seat at the table to set a fair rate for the job, agree basic standards, tackle gender and ethnicity pay gaps, end discrimination, promote equality and make work accessible for disabled workers.”
She added that the Fair Pay Agreements would be rolled out first in the care sector.
Other employment rights plans outlined at the conference include increasing Statutory Sick Pay and making it universal and putting mental health and safety on a legal par with physical health and safety, enforced by a new watchdog. Meanwhile, the shadow employment minister Andy McDonald has quit, reportedly over the failure of the Party to officially call for a £15-an-hour minimum wage. Labour official policy is a £10 minimum wage at least, up from the existing £8.91 per hour for workers aged 23 and over. Conference voted in favour of a £15-an-hour minimum wage.
The launch comes ahead of the week that will see the end of the furlough scheme. The Resolution Foundation think tank says the scheme has been a “huge success” and has saved many jobs, but it predicts hundreds of thousands of people could be out of work when it ends, with older workers more likely to be at risk because the numbers of younger people on the scheme has fallen much more significantly in recent months.