Jeremy Corbyn and Laura Pidcock MP have announced plans to “put power in the hands of workers” and not the “born-to-rule establishment.”

At the TUC congress on Tuesday 10th September, the Labour leader and Shadow Minister for Labour outlined their desire to create a Ministry for Employment Rights.

They aim to extend the rights of workers to increase wages and health and safety in the workplace. Also, the Labour party wants employees to have a say in how the organisation is run.

Labour believes that the rights of employees are being “ flouted” by “nearly half a million businesses” that are “still being paid less than the minimum wage.”

What Is The Ministry For Employment Rights? 

It’s an entity that is responsible for extending the rights of workers.

Labour plans to make their Secretary of State for Employment Rights the leader of the organisation so that it comes under the purview of a leading Cabinet member.

How Does Labour Plan To Enforce Their Aims? 

A new entity will be created to ensure the targets of the Labour party are met if they come to power.

The Workers’ Protection Agency is set to enforce rights across the board, as well as dealing with “sectoral collective bargaining.”

What Is Sectoral Collective Bargaining?

It’s the process of reaching a collective agreement for workers’ rights in a sector of any industry. At the moment, “enterprise bargaining” is in place.

This means negotiated agreements only cover an individual firm and not the entire sector.

Labour’s minimum terms will focus on core issues, such as pay, working hours and recruitment, and grievance processes.

How Will This Impact Businesses? 

The changes, if implemented, are due to shake up the industry. Employers will have to ensure that they provide their workers with extended rights; for example, a mandatory Real Living Wage.

The amount of the RLW is set to be £10 per hour for everyone over the age of 16 and will come in by 2020 if Labour is elected.

There will be an end to the “Swedish derogation,” too. At the moment, employers can pay agency workers less than full-time staff members, but pay for this group will be brought in line by the changes.

Zero hour contracts will also be banned, meaning businesses will have to provide their employees with a deal that offer fixed hours.

Unpaid internships will no longer exist under the terms, either. Companies that rely on providing their interns with experience rather than money will need to offer a financial incentive in the future.

Trade Unions 

Businesses will be required to open up their doors to trade union officials so that they can organise members. Any legislation in place now concerning trade unions may not exist as the plans aim to abolish the Trade Union Act 2016 altogether.

Is Anyone Exempt? 

Yes. Under the guidelines, the “genuinely self-employed” won’t be covered by Labour’s plans.

Should Employers Be Preparing For A Shift In Workers’ Rights? 

It depends on whether Labour gets into power. However, with a no-deal Brexit off the table and a general election looming, it could be a scenario that plays out in full in the future.

Commenting on the announcements, employment lawyer Gwyn Edwards said “workers’ rights need to be carefully weighted against the needs of business and many employers will be highly concerned by these announcements.

Given the current political turmoil however it seems highly unlikely that these proposals will become reality in the foreseeable future”.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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