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

Submitted by sglenister on Thu, 30/06/2016 - 11:33

Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law

Quick access menu: Our experts - Labour Party Support - Recommendations- Workers' stories - Briefing - Brochure - Buy the publication - The history of the Manifesto for Labour Law

Show your support

You can tweet your support for Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law by using the hashtag #iermanifesto or click an image below (or more than one if you like!) to send it straight to your Twitter!

On Sunday 09 September 2018 at TUC Congress, the Institute of Employment Rights will launch the second edition of the Manifesto for Labour Law - Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law. Read more about launch and attend.

Speakers will include Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Rebecca Long-Bailey, IER Chair John Hendy QC, TGI Friday's worker Lauren Townshend, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash and CWU General Secretary Dave Ward. The meeting will be chaired by IER Director Carolyn Jones.

Buy the publication

Our experts

Labour Party support

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has previously described the Manifesto as a ‘blueprint’ for the Labour Party’s future reforms to employment and trade union rights. Indeed, several key proposals from the Manifesto were adopted as part of the 2017 Labour Party Manifesto For the Many, Not the Few. Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law was developed - working closely with the Labour Party - as a roadmap to the implementation of these ideas.

Both Shadow Ministers explain why they welcome the report in the videos below:

John McDonnell welcomes Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law

Rebecca Long-Bailey welcomes Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law

Back to top


Key recommendations are listed below. To view a briefing that includes all 25 recommendations as well as issues identified by our report, please click here.

  • A Ministry of Labour with a Cabinet seat to give workers a voice in government and to plan for the workforce the UK needs;
  • National Joint Councils (NJCs) in all sectors, on which an equal number of employers’ and workers’ representatives would sit to negotiate sectoral collective agreements setting minimum terms and conditions for the sector on everything from wages, to apprenticeships, to dispute resolution procedures;
  • Stronger trade union rights to recognition, access and inspection of workplaces to provide workers with a genuine choice to be represented by a union rather than forcing them to fight for the privilege;
  • A minimum of two workers on boards, as well as a guaranteed percentage of worker votes at company general meetings, and a greater role for workers in managing their pension funds;
  • A real living wage to replace the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage;
  • A single 'worker' status with equal rights from day one for all workers to replace the current categorisation that makes ‘workers’ eligible for fewer rights than ‘employees’, and to remove the confusion over employment status in the gig economy;
  • A minimum number of guaranteed hours for all workers to be specified by employers, and a premium rate for overtime to replace zero-hours contracts while allowing employers and workers to preserve the flexibility each needs;
  • Stronger equality rights to make it easier for parents, people from a lower socio-economic background, people with a non-binary gender identity, and other vulnerable groups to stay in and benefit from work;
  • An emphasis on in-house dispute resolution through procedures agreed by NJCs, to reduce the expense and stress to employers and workers of litigation;
  • An independent Labour Inspectorate to monitor labour law compliance in the workplace and with enforcement powers;
  • Compensation commensurate with the losses incurred by the victim and criminal sanctions for the worst offenders including those guilty of blacklisting, corporate manslaughter, and significant evasion of court ordered compensation. Directors and shareholders will also have personal liability - including under criminal law - for actions they have taken that caused or contributed to harm.

Back to top

Changing laws; changing lives

Back to top


Download the full briefing for Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law, which provides a summary of all 25 recommendations, an introduction to the benefits associated with sectoral collective bargaining, and some of the current labour law issues that justify reform.

Back to top

Brochure 2018

Download a PDF copy of our TUC Congress 2018 brochure or view online below.

Back to top

Buy the publication

Click here to order your copy of Rolling Out or visit us at TUC Congress 2018 to get your copy for half price!

Back to top

History of the Manifesto for Labour Law

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.

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

Read more and purchase your copy

MLL brochure final (web).pdf2.05 MB

This website relies on the use of cookies to function correctly. We understand your continued use of the site as agreement to this.