IER launches new proposals to end job insecurity and low pay

Independent think tank the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) will launch a comprehensive package of labour law proposals - Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law - on Sunday 09 September at TUC Congress.

14 Sep 2018| News

Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, and Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, will speak at the event to welcome the proposals and outline how they will help the Labour Party to implement its 2017 Manifesto For the Many, not the Few.

John McDonnell welcomes Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law

Drawing from research into both domestic and international labour law, Rolling Out makes 25 recommendations for radical reform to end the growing scourge of insecure work, low pay and the lack of rights and protections associated with the gig economy, thereby transforming the world of work so that it benefits the many, not just the few

The report further develops the recommendations of the IER’s 2016 Manifesto for Labour Law, many of which were adopted in the Labour Party’s 2017 Manifesto For the Many Not the Few.

It was authored collaboratively by 26 leading lawyers and academics from across the UK, and edited by Professor Keith Ewing (Kings’ College London, IER President); John Hendy QC (Old Square Chambers, IER Chair); and Director of the IER, Carolyn Jones.

Key recommendations include:

  • A Ministry of Labour
  • The roll-out of sectoral collective bargaining
  • Stronger trade union rights to recognition, access and inspection of workplaces
  • A minimum of two workers on boards
  • A real living wage
  • A single ‘worker’ status with equal rights from day one for all workers
  • A minimum number of guaranteed hours for all workers (to be specified by employers), and a premium rate for overtime – replacing zero-hours contracts
  • Stronger equality rights
  • An emphasis on in-house dispute resolution to avoid costly litigation
  • An independent Labour Inspectorate to monitor labour law compliance
  • Compensation commensurate with the losses incurred by the victim and criminal sanctions for the worst offenders

Please see full briefing for details of all 25 recommendations and the issues they seek to resolve.

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

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said:

“Today, the vast majority of workers have no say over their pay, conditions and the hours they work. Insecurity has fast become the norm and nearly four million people face insecurity at work.

The Taylor review was a missed opportunity to radically transform the current employment system that is no longer fit for purpose. At its core was the misconception that there is a trade-off between flexibility and security – that in order to fit work around their lives workers had to sacrifice their hard-won rights.

Predictably, the Government’s overdue response was just more empty rhetoric, with no real action to improve the lives of the millions of people in insecure work.

A Labour Government will transform the world of work, providing security, decent pay and equal rights for people from day one, including sick pay, holiday pay and protection against unfair dismissal. We will introduce a new Ministry of Labour to give workers a voice in parliament, sectoral collective bargaining to raise wages and conditions, and repeal dangerous anti-trade union legislation.

“We have worked closely with the Institute of Employment Rights, and welcome this new report that builds on Labour’s Manifesto and offers a practical plan to not only protect, but to improve upon, workers’ rights and ensure that the economy works for the many and not the few.”

John Hendy QC, IER Chair, said:

“Poor pay, poor conditions and an increasingly unequal economy are the inevitable product of government policy over 40 years to destroy collective bargaining in the UK. The proportion of GDP going to wages has plummeted from 65% in 1974 to just 49% in 2007 – a figure that underestimates the depth of inequality because it includes CEO salaries at 386 times the National Living Wage. This is bad news for everybody – both the rich and the poor – and has severely damaged our economy, with low demand and low productivity. Inequality of power has excluded most workers from any say in the conditions under which they work. A reversal of government policy and a new set of labour laws are essential and urgent to reconstruct the world of work. By coming together as a society and encouraging dialogue between workers, employers and government, we can rebuild our economy and face future challenges from a place of strength.”

Professor Keith Ewing, IER President, said:

“Labour is not a commodity. This is the principle of international law underpinning our proposals. Workers too often feel treated like numbers rather than people, a problem that has been brought to light by multiple exposes and inquiries at major employers like Sports Direct, Amazon and Uber. It is labour law that has allowed this to happen and labour law that can bring it to an end. Our proposals bring UK law up to the standard seen in most other developed economies, particularly in Western Europe. From an international standpoint, the UK is unusual in its marginalisation of workers’ voice. The facts speak for themselves: Where industrial relations are strong, society is more equal and the economy more resilient and prosperous. When it comes down to it, the future of labour law is integral to the future of the UK.”

Carolyn Jones, IER Director, said:

“The UK’s employment law framework is not fit for purpose. Britain needs a pay rise and our economy needs a boost. The best way to achieve both is to put more money into the pockets of workers and more investment into workplace innovation. The free market has failed. It’s time for change. Our Manifesto provides the pillars on which a sound economy and strong employment rights can be built.”


Editors’ Notes

Contact Sarah Glenister,


Rolling out the Manifesto for Labour Law will be launched on Sunday 09 September, 6.30pm (or end of Congress) at Charter 4, Manchester Central Convention Complex.

TGI Friday’s worker Lauren Townshend will share her story of working under the current framework of labour law and the difficulties she has faced creating a dialogue with an employer that has consistently cut her and her coworkers’ rights.

Other speakers include: John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey, John Hendy QC, Mick Cash (RMT) and Dave Ward (CWU).

Refreshments will be provided.


Click here for full briefing

List of authors:

  • Richard Arthur (Thompsons Solicitors)
  • Alan Bogg (Professor, Bristol University)
  • Nicola Countouris (Professor, University College London)
  • Ruth Dukes (Professor, Glasgow University)
  • Keith Ewing (Professor, King’s College London)
  • Sandy Fredman QC (Hon) (Professor, Oxford University)
  • Michael Ford QC (Professor, Bristol University)
  • Mark Freedland QC (Hon) (Emeritus Professor, Oxford University; University College London)
  • Lydia Hayes (Reader, Cardiff University)
  • John Hendy QC (Hon Professor, University College London)
  • Phil James (Professor, Middlesex University)
  • Carolyn Jones (Director, Institute of Employment Rights)
  • Aristea Koukiadaki (Senior Lecturer, The University of Manchester)
  • Aileen McColgan (Professor, King’s College London)
  • Ewan McGaughey (Senior Lecturer, King’s College London)
  • Sonia McKay (Visiting Professor, University of Greenwich; University of the West of England)
  • Virginia Mantouvalou (Professor, University College London)
  • Andrew Moretta (PhD candidate, Liverpool University)
  • Tonia Novitz (Professor, Bristol University)
  • Colm O’Cinneide (Professor, University College London)
  • Steve Tombs (Professor, Open University)
  • Peter Turnbull (Professor, University of Bristol)
  • Sarah Veale (Executive Committee, Institute of Employment Rights)
  • David Walters (Professor, Cardiff University)
  • David Whyte (Professor, Liverpool University)
  • Frank Wilkinson (Emeritus Reader, Cambridge University)

About the IER:

The Institute of Employment Rights is a think tank for the labour movement and a charity. We exist 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.