Manifesto 2019:Tackle Poverty and Inequality - Ministry for Employment Rights

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Ministry for Employment Rights


Throughout history, working people in Britain have improved their lives by coming together to demand rights and protections. Even after decades in which workers’ rights have been cut back and their unions’ capacity to defend them have been slashed, the Tories believe that workers’ terms and conditions should be dictated by employers on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

We are proud of the trade union movement’s historic achievements in giving people a voice at work through collective action. It is not just part of our history; it is also part of our future. Only by shifting the balance of power back towards workers will we achieve decent wages, security and dignity at work.

The next Labour government will transform people’s lives for the better through the biggest extension of workers’ rights in history.

We will give working people a voice at the Cabinet table by establishing a Ministry for Employment Rights.

We will start to roll out sectoral collective bargaining across the economy, bringing workers and employers together to agree legal minimum standards on a wide range of issues, such as pay and working hours, that every employer in the sector must follow. Sectoral collective bargaining will increase wages and reduce inequality. This will also stop good employers being undercut by bad employers.

We will tackle insecurity by:


  • Giving everyone full rights from day one on the job.
  • Strengthening protections for whistleblowers and rights against unfair dismissal for all workers, with extra protections for pregnant women, those going through the menopause and terminally ill workers.
  • Ending bogus self-employment and creating a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from those genuinely self-employed in business on their own account, so that employers can not evade workers’ rights; and banning overseas-only recruitment practices.
  • Introducing a legal right to collective consultation on the implementation of new technology in workplaces.
  • Banning zero-hour contracts and strengthening 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 help people balance work and family life by:

  • Increasing wages through sectoral collective bargaining.
  • Requiring breaks during shifts to be paid.
  • Requiring cancelled shifts to be paid and proper notice for changes in hours.
  • Giving all workers the right to flexible working.
  • Extending statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months.
  • Doubling paternity leave from two weeks to four and increasing statutory paternity pay.
  • Introducing statutory bereavement leave, guaranteeing workers time off to grieve the loss of close family members or following miscarriage.
  • Introducing four new bank holidays celebrating our four patron saints’ days.
  • Reviewing family-friendly employment rights, including rights to respond to family emergencies.

We will make sure people are treated equally at work by:


  • Requiring employers to devise and implement plans to eradicate the gender pay gap – and pay inequalities underpinned by race and/or disability – or face fines.
  • Requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of harassment, including harassment by third parties.
  • Increasing protection against redundancy for people wherever they work.
  • Giving statutory rights to equalities representatives.
  • Setting up a Royal Commission to bring health (including mental health) and safety legislation up to date.
  • Ensuring that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence.
  • Banning unpaid internships.

We will remove unfair and unnecessary restrictions on trade unions, allowing people to come together and speak up on issues that affect them at work.

We will:


  • Allow trade unions to use secure electronic and workplace ballots.
  • Remove unnecessary restrictions on industrial action.
  • Strengthen and enforce trade unions’ right of entry to workplaces to organise, meet and represent their members and to recruit.
  • Ban union-busting, strengthen protection of trade union representatives against unfair dismissal and union members from intimidation, harassment, threats and blacklisting.
  • Repeal anti-trade union legislation including the Trade Union Act 2016 and create new rights and freedoms for trade unions to help them win a better deal for working people.
  • Simplify the law around union recognition.
  • Give union reps adequate time off for union duties.

We will develop collective income- protection insurance schemes for the self-employed. We will introduce a maximum workplace temperature to protect workers and require employers to take counteracting measures.

For years, the UK has been in breach of our international obligations. We will bring UK law into line with the International Labour Organisation standards it has ratified, so Britain leads the world, instead of engaging in a race to the bottom.