A Manifesto for Labour Law: towards a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights

Submitted by sglenister on Thu, 30/06/2016 - 10:33

On 28 June 2016, the Institute of Employment Rights launched its Manifesto for Labour Law at Westminster with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Shadow Minister for Trade Unions Ian Lavery alongside leaders from several major trade unions. The 25 policy recommendations were warmly welcomed by John and Ian, who stated that they would form the blueprint for Labour's official position on workers' rights in post-EU Britain.

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On 26 September 2016, John McDonnell announced that the next Labour government would look to implement the IER's policies - see the video below.

On 10 September 2016, John McDonnell updated TUC Congress on the progress of the Manifesto for Labour Law as it has informed Labour Party policy, saying his team is "preparing now the detailed plans for the setting up of a new ministry of labour, its full terms of reference, internal structures and remits and its ministerial and staffing structure." Read his full speech here

What are our policies?

Our key proposal is to shift the focus of labour law from statutory minimum rights to collective bargaining, allowing workers to organise and negotiate for higher wages and conditions within not only their companies but across entire sectors.

Sectoral collective bargaining would lead to wage and condition floors being set across industries, which can be built on at company level. This would lead to higher pay and better conditions, adding to workers' job security and income. As the population accrues greater spending power, demand for products and services will increase, leading businesses to add to their workforce, and thus creating new jobs.

We also recommend that the definition of the legal term 'worker' is reviewed, as currently many people working in the burgeoning so-called "gig" economy (such as Uber drivers, Deliveroo workers, some agency workers, and people on zero-hours contracts) legally fall outside of the eligibility criteria for basic workers rights, such as sick pay. By reconsidering how labour law works in the context of the "gig" economy, we can ensure that companies are not able to simply dodge employment law by misclassifying their workers as "self employed" or by hiring them on contracts that offer no security.

In addition, our policies recommend taking another look at the way that employment law is enforced to ensure there are repercussions for those who break the rules. We propose having labour inspectors within workplaces to make sure the law is followed, labour courts specifically focused on employment cases, and sanctioning unscrupulous employers including through criminal proceedings for extreme breaches such as the blacklisting of trade union members.

To read about our policies in detail and review the wide evidence base that backs them, please purchase a copy of the Manifesto for Labour Law for just £10. This publication was authored by 15 leading labour lawyers and academics from the UK's most prestigious university and the arguments it lays out are now official Labour Party policy.

Four target areas for reform

As part of Phase 2 of our Manifesto for Labour Law project, we identified four target areas for reform: giving workers a voice, reclaiming stronger statutory rights, enforcing our rights, and protecting trade unions.

Click on the icons below to see more details of some of our policies in each of these areas:

Read the summaries

Click here to download the PDF of our latest summary or view online in the box below

View our 2016 summary and support from unions

Support from the Labour Party

Support from the labour movement

Promoting Popular Policies: A New Deal for Workers Timeline

Preview the Manifesto

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