Liberal Democrat Manifesto Pledges on Employment Law
The Liberal Deomcrat party has published its manifesto for the 12 December 2019 general election.
The key Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges on employment law and industrial relations are:-
- Establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine Living Wage across all sectors. We will pay this Living Wage in all central government departments and their agencies, and encourage other public sector employers to do likewise.
- Establish a powerful new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority to protect those in precarious work.
- Change the law so that flexible working is open to all from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise jobs accordingly, unless there are significant business reasons why that is not possible.
- Modernise employment rights to make them fit for the age of the ‘gig economy’, including by:
- Establishing a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status in between employment and self-employment, with entitlements to basic rights such as minimum earnings levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement.
- Reviewing the tax and National Insurance status of employees, dependent contractors and freelancers to ensure fair and comparable treatment.
- Setting a 20 per cent higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours of work.
- Giving a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months for ‘zero hours’ and agency workers, not to be unreasonably refused.
- Reviewing rules concerning pensions so that those in the gig economy don’t lose out, and portability between roles is protected.
- Shifting the burden of proof in employment tribunals regarding employment status from individual to employer.
- Strengthen the ability of unions to represent workers effectively in the modern economy, including a right of access to workplaces.
- Encourage employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.
- Strengthen worker participation in decision-making, including staff representation on remuneration committees, and require all UK-listed companies and all private companies with more than 250 employees to have at least one employee representative on their boards with the same legal duties and responsibilities as other directors.
- Introduce a general duty of care for the environment and human rights – requiring companies, financial institutions and public sector agencies to exercise due diligence in avoiding specified activities such as child labour or modern slavery, or specified products such as commodities produced with deforestation, in their operations and supply chains, and to report on their actions.
- Reform fiduciary duty and company purpose rules to ensure that all large companies have a formal statement of corporate purpose, including considerations such as employee welfare, environmental standards, community benefit and ethical practice, alongside benefit to shareholders, and that they report formally on the wider impact of the business on society and the environment.
- Encourage new forms of incorporation and a diversity of business types, such as for large firms contracting with the public sector or providing essential utilities and for smaller firms wanting a dual purpose to be profit-making and have a positive impact on society, workers, communities and the environment.
- Require binding and public votes of shareholders on executive pay policies.
- Extend the scope of the existing ‘public interest’ test when considering approvals for takeovers of large or strategically significant companies by overseas-based owners to recognise the benefits to the UK economy, workers and consumers of protecting UK companies from speculative or short-term interests.
- Introduce new Skills Wallets for every adult in England, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives:
- The government will put in £4,000 at age 25, £3,000 at age 40 and £3,000 at age 55.
- Individuals, their employers and local government will be able to make additional payments into the wallets.
- Individuals can choose how and when to spend this money on a range of approved education and training courses from providers who are regulated and monitored by the Office for Students.
- Individuals will have access to free careers guidance to help them to decide how to spend the money in their Skills Wallets.
- Government will work with industry to identify skills needs and to evaluate and certify courses.
- Expand the apprenticeship levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’ to help prepare the UK’s workforce for the economic challenges ahead with 25 per cent of the funds raised by the levy going into a ‘Social Mobility Fund’ targeted at areas with the greatest skill needs.
- Develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.
- Identify and seek to solve skills gaps such as the lack of advanced technicians by expanding higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.
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