The opposition Labor Party has set out ambitious plans to restructure employment laws and practices and “fundamentally change the economy” as part of a new drive to attract disaffected workers.
The new plans – which amount to disrupting and transforming the ecosystem of Britain’s labyrinthine employment practices – are being spearheaded by Labor’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner.
Rayner, 41, was appointed to the freshly minted post of Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work barely three months ago.
Under wide-ranging proposals for a “new deal” for workers, Labor argues employees should be given “full rights” from their first day in the job.
Currently there are some key entitlements which do not come into force until a worker has spent some time in a job. These include statutory maternity pay, adoption, paternity and shared paternity leave, in addition to the right to request flexible working hours.
Equally significant, Labor says it wants to outlaw “fire and rehire” practices whereby employers sack workers only to immediately rehire them under new and poorer terms and conditions.
While the practice has been around for decades, it has reportedly become more widespread since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with employers taking advantage of the crisis to skew working practices to their benefit.
Furthermore, Labor says it would introduce a “real living wage” of at least £10 an hour, create “tens of thousands of apprenticeships” and establish “a level playing field on tax between multinational giants and local businesses”.
In announcing the plans, Rayner said the UK was “at a fork in the road” as the country slowly recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Under the Conservatives we have a broken economic model defined by insecure work, low wages and in-work poverty and a lack of opportunity for people who want to get on and find good work to support themselves and their families", Rayner proclaimed.
For his part, Labor Party leader, Keir Starmer, has lent his full support to the proposed plans by saying the pandemic had exposed the fact that “millions of workers don’t have the dignity and security they deserve from their job”.