How do the Parties compare on workers’ rights?

The IER's analysis of the Manifestos of all main political parties during the 2017 election.



Liberal Democrat

Protecting precarious workers

Ban on zero-hour contracts.

Give all workers equal rights from day one.

Legislate to ensure that any employer wishing to recruit labour from abroad does not undercut workers at home.

Ensure every takeover proposal has a clear plan in place to protect workers and pensioners when a company is sold.

Right to a regular contract for those working more than 12 hours a week reflecting those hours.

Abolish “Swedish derogation”, which allows agency workers to be paid less for the same job.

Scrap Tory weakening of TUPE law.

“Protections” for workers in the “gig” economy – likely to be based on the Taylor Review, which will be released after the election. Right to request guaranteed hours for workers on zero-hour contracts (but no right to receive them).

A consultation at a later date to consider introducing a right for zero-hour workers who work regular hours a contract reflecting their usual hours after a certain period of time.

Giving workers a voice


A new Ministry of Labour to represent workers’ interests in Westminster.

A review of the rules on union recognition so that more workers have the security of a union.

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.

Guarantee trade unions a right to access workplaces.

Enforce all workers’ rights to trade union representation at work.

Hold a public inquiry into blacklisting.

Only award public contracts to companies which recognise trade unions.

Companies can select a non-executive director to sit as a “worker representative” on boards, but there will be no requirement to have an actual worker sit on the board.

The right to receive the same information on your employer as shareholders do.

German-style system of a two-tiered board structure that includes workers’ representatives.

Raising pay

Minimum of £10ph by 2020 for all workers – the Real Living wage.

End the Public Sector Pay Cap.

Roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector and in companies bidding for public contracts.

Minimum of £8.75ph by 2020 for workers over 25 – National “Living Wage” for all workers (no change on current policy) £10ph by 2020 for some workers (civil servants in central government departments to receive Real Living Wage only) and an independent review into extending the living wage to other workers.

Employers who pay the living wage to be honoured with a new kitemark.

End the public sector paycap.

Requirement for larger employers to publish the number of their workers paid less than the Living Wage, the ratio between top and median pay.

Rights of the 3 million EU workers living in the UK

Guaranteed right to remain for EU nationals. No guarantee of right to remain in the UK. Guaranteed right to remain for EU nationals.

Protecting workers’ rights after Brexit

Replace Great Repeal Bill with EU Rights and Protections Bill to ensure no detrimental change to workers’ rights. Some workers’ rights to stay in secondary legislation, where they can be changed post-Brexit without a debate in parliament. Existing workers’ rights to be enshrined in primary legislation, which means they cannot be changed after Brexit without a full parliamentary debate.

Equality at work

Double paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase paternity pay.

Strengthen protections for women against unfair redundancy.

Give equalities reps statutory rights – so they have time to protect workers from discrimination.

Reinstate protection against third party harassment.

Introduce a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing.

Funding for “returnships” for new mothers – short-term work placements, similar to internships, for women who want to go back to work after starting a family.

A consultation at a later date to consider offering maternity leave to “gig” workers.

Extending the Equality Act 2010 to cover people with mental health conditions.

Employers who use name-blind recruitment to fight discrimination honoured with a new kitemark.

An additional “use it or lose it” month of paid leave for fathers to encourage them to take up paternity leave.

A Day One right to shared parental leave and flexible working.

Company boards to be 40% female by 2025.

Requirement for larger employers to publish data on gender, BAME and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.

Quality of life at work

Four new public holidays.

Enforce health and safety regulations that save lives at work.

Two weeks of paid leave in the circumstances that a worker loses their child.

The right to take unpaid leave to care for sick relatives.

Right to request time off for training (but no right to receive it).

Unpaid internships

Ban on unpaid internships. Employers who avoid unpaid internships honoured with a new kitemark.

Employment tribunal fees

Ban on ET fees. Ban on ET fees.