Labour’s Fair Pay Agreements policy “wise and progressive”

Experts at the independent think tank, the Institute of Employment Rights, welcome today's Labour Party proposal for Fair Pay Agreements.

24 Sep 2021| News

Experts at the independent think tank, the Institute of Employment Rights, welcome Saturday’s Green Paper from the Labour Party, which includes a “wise and progressive” proposal for Fair Pay Agreements.

This policy is based on the work of 26 employment law experts, brought together by the IER, who designed a sectoral collective bargaining system for the UK. Professor Lydia Hayes later built upon their recommendations in her argument that adult social care should be prioritised in the rollout of sectoral collective bargaining.

The New Zealand government is rolling out sectoral collective bargaining in a Fair Pay Agreements Bill to be introduced later in 2021.

Professor Keith Ewing, President of the IER, said: “We are delighted that the Labour Party has recommitted to the recommendations put forward by the Institute of Employment Rights in 2016, and adopted at the 2017 and 2019 elections.

“Sectoral collective bargaining is a mainstay of workplace protection in many developed countries and modern research has repeatedly demonstrated it is the single best way to improve wages and conditions.

“Workers in the UK work longer hours in poorer conditions for less pay than their counterparts in countries with a tradition of collective bargaining at sectoral level.

“Because Fair Pay Agreements will bind all employers in the same sector to the same conditions, they will prevent good employers from being undercut by those who exploit their workforce. In contrast, our current system perversely rewards those who treat their workers badly.”


Lord John Hendy QC, IER Chair, said: “We welcome this wise and progressive policy from the Labour Party. It is high time the UK caught up with other developed countries around the world and treated its workers with dignity and respect.

“This plan does not just make economic sense, it could contribute greatly to the quality of our lives. We spend an enormous proportion of our time at work and we should have a say in how we’re treated there. Leisure and family time is also dictated by hours of work, as well as by wage levels, and that reinforces the need for a say through collective bargaining.

“After the experience of the pandemic, more workers have been re-examining their work-life balance and their happiness in their jobs and their employers are coming up short. Low-paid sectors are finding out the hard way that many workers will no longer tolerate poor treatment.

“By introducing Fair Pay Agreements, Labour will give workers the mechanism through which their voices can be heard.”

Notes to editor:

For queries and interviews, please contact Sarah Glenister on


About the Manifesto for Labour Law

The Manifesto for Labour Law was published in 2016 and made 25 recommendations for the progressive reform of employment rights. Key proposals from the report were adopted by the Labour Party in their 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

The 26 experts brought together to author the Manifesto for Labour Law were:

  • Richard Arthur, Thompsons Solicitors
  • Professor Alan Bogg, Bristol University
  • Professor Nicola Countouris, University College London
  • Professor Ruth Dukes, Glasgow University
  • Professor Keith Ewing, King’s College London
  • Professor Sandy Fredman QC, Oxford University
  • Professor Michael Ford QC, Bristol University
  • Professor Mark Freedland QC, Oxford University
  • Professor Lydia Hayes, University of Kent
  • Lord John Hendy QC, Old Square Chambers
  • Professor Phil James, Middlesex University
  • Carolyn Jones, Director of the IER
  • Aristea Koukiadaki, The University of Manchester
  • Professor Aileen McColgan QC, King’s College London
  • Ewan McGaughey, King’s College London
  • Professor Sonia McKay, University of Greenwich
  • Professor Virginia Mantouvalou, University College London
  • Andrew Moretta, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Tonia Novitz, Bristol University
  • Professor Colm O’Cinneide, University College London
  • Professor Steve Tombs, Open University
  • Professor Peter Turnball, Bristol University
  • Sarah Veale, IER Executive Committee
  • Professor David Walters, Cardiff University
  • Professor David Whyte, University of Liverpool
  • Frank Wilkinson, Cambridge University

More about the Manifesto for Labour Law at

More about Professor Lydia Hayes’ Report at


About the Institute of Employment Rights

The Institute of Employment Rights is a think tank for the trade union movement and a registered charity.

The IER exists to inform the debate around trade union rights and labour law by providing information, critical analysis, and policy ideas through our network of academics, researchers and lawyers.

We were established in February 1989 as an independent organisation to act as a focal point for the spread of new ideas in the field of labour law. In 1994 the Institute became a registered charity.