Delivering a Ministry of Labour, sectoral collective bargaining and equal rights for all workers.
The Manifesto for Labour Law's 25 recommendations for reform have found widespread support across opposition parties and trade unions and have significantly influenced Labour Party policy.
A ‘blueprint’ for the Labour Party’s future reforms to employment and trade union rights
Launched in 2016 in response to a call for evidence as part of the Labour Party’s Workplace 2020 consultation, this project has so far produced three publications and attracted 26 leading academics and lawyers from some of the UK’s most prestigious institutions to the Manifesto for Labour Law team.
The recommendations developed over the course of the project have the overarching aim of shifting the focus of labour law towards collective, rather than individual, workers’ rights.
Key proposals include:
Establishing a Ministry of Labour
Restoral sectoral collective bargaining
Strengthening trade union rights – including the right to strike
Strengthening statutory rights
Ensuring all people in employment are granted the full suite of rights from day one on the job
Establishing a robust enforcement system
Most economies across the developed world already operate a similar system of collective working rights to that put forth by the Manifesto team, particularly in Europe where the majority of people in employment receive wages and conditions agreed on their behalf by trade unions.
Drawing from international and historical evidence, the Manifesto for Labour Law recommendations could transform the world of work for millions of people, reduce inequality, and build a strong, resilient, future-proofed economy.
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The MoL will be responsible for overseeing a new collective bargaining framework; ensuring full employment in secure, high-quality jobs; ensuring wages remain high enough to minimise reliance on state benefits; and developing strategies to provide appropriate training and education to fill present or future skills gaps.
Unions, employers, government officials and independent academics will sit on the National Economic Forum – established by the MoL – to plan for industrial challenges and scrutinise the impact of policy on all sections of society.
Bargaining Councils (BCs) will be established and rolled out across all sectors of the economy, probably beginning with the worst paid such as the adult social care sector. An equal number of employers’ and workers’ representatives will sit on BCs to negotiate sectoral collective agreements on everything from wages, to apprenticeships, to dispute resolution procedures. BCs will also represent the interests of their industry to government.
Stronger trade union rights to recognition, access and inspection of workplaces will be introduced to provide workers with a voice at work and a genuine choice as to whether they are represented by a union rather than forcing them to fight for the privilege. A right to strike will be stated, some forms of secondary action permitted – and anti-trade union actions taken by employers will be made unlawful. Individual trade union representatives will be protected against unfair dismissal and surveillance.
A new universal status of ‘worker’ will replace the current division that makes workers who are not ‘employees’ eligible for fewer rights than ‘employees’. This will remove the confusion over employment status in the gig economy. The onus will be on employers to prove a contractor is self-employed, rather than workers having to prove they are not self-employed.
These should be replaced by contracts with a minimum number of guaranteed hours and a premium rate for overtime. Employers should be able to indicate a limited number of hours in addition to regular hours, allowing them to retain flexibility of the workforce, thereby replacing zero-hours contracts with a fairer alternative.
To avoid unnecessary, expensive and stressful court cases, in-house dispute resolution procedures agreed by BCs will be the first port of call when resolving a grievance, thus establishing the principle, negotiation not litigation.
Supply chain leaders will face joint liability for labour law breaches made by their suppliers, including health and safety regulations and minimum labour standards applied either in law or agreed by BCs in any jurisdiction including domestically and abroad. This will ensure that UK profit cannot be based on exploitation, including of those in other nations.
New public procurement and licensing rules will limit public works to contractors that recognise and negotiate with trade unions, and that do not engage in blacklisting or other serious labour law breaches.