The leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has promised to overhaul workers’ rights including raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour and banning fire and rehire practices.
Addressing a TUC conference on Tuesday, Mr. Starmer outlined various policies, as part of a New Deal for Workers, that Labour would implement if the party came into power.
This included increasing minimum wage to at least £10 an hour, offering a greater role for unions in boosting pay with more workers covered by collectively agreed deals and tackling insecurity and uncertainty at work by banning zero-hours contracts.
The party also pledged to offer UK workers holiday pay, protection from unfair dismissal, a guarantee to an increased amount of sick pay than is currently available, parental leave for all workers and the right to flexible working from day one in employment.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady reacted to the policies outlined in the New Deal for Workers positively, stating:
Keir Starmer is right to focus on dignity at work. This pandemic has exposed the inequality and insecurity at the heart of our labour market.
No-one should be pushed into financial hardship if they fall ill at work. Keir today promised that the next Labour government will increase statutory sick pay and make sure everyone has access to it – including the lowest-paid workers.
During the pandemic, too many couldn’t afford to self-isolate because sick pay is too low or they aren’t eligible for it at all. This badly undermined our public health effort during Covid.
Previous research carried out by the TUC found that around 2 million workers who earn less than the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) – less than £120 a week – are currently unable to qualify for sick pay.
Furthermore, statutory sick pay in the UK is currently £96.35 per week which is one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe.
The use of fire and rehire practices have also grown throughout the pandemic with over three-quarters of businesses (76 per cent) stating their view that this practice should be against the law.
Mr. Starmer expressed his hope that the plans outlined “would a deliver a new deal for working people based on security at work, quality jobs and a fairer economy, opportunity for all and work that pays”, ultimately “[transforming] working lives in Britain”.