Everyone’s experience of work is different: there are many among us who cannot work, who need to work part time or who have to work several jobs. There are those who do a job they love, and many who don’t.
But wherever you sit with the world of work, working conditions – pay, hours, dignity in the workplace, fair treatment – will affect you or your loved ones. And far too many people in Britain are getting a raw deal at the moment, feeling the effects of insecure work.
The New Deal will introduce vital, practical changes that add up into happier, healthier and more productive workplaces for the working people of Britain. The highlghts:
Labour will create a real living wage and ban zero-hours contacts
Labour – the party that created the minimum wage – will introduce a real living wage for all workers from the age of 18. This is hugely important, but it is not enough to have a good rate of pay if you don’t have a contract with secure hours of work. Labour will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts and ensure anyone working a regular number of hours for 12 weeks or more has the right to a contract that reflects their usual hours of work.
A ban on zero-hours contracts will not be effective if a zero-hours contract can simply be replaced with a two- or three-hours-a-week contract. These contracts provide a bare minimum of secure hours and require a great deal of flexibility on the remaining hours, leaving people in limbo about when and how much they are working. That is why the right to a regular contract is so crucial. For example, it will make a huge difference to shop workers, many of whom are on ‘short-hours’ contracts.
Research has shown that black and disabled worker are even more likely to be adversely affected by the current system. Ending this one-sided flexibility will have an important impact on the financial security of millions of workers. It will help to redress some of the imbalance that vulnerable workers currently face and will help to support better mental health.
The party will abolish the waiting period for sick pay
But it’s not just about hours. Better support when they are off sick will be a positive change for millions of workers too. Labour will abolish the ‘three waiting days’ that are part of the statutory sick pay scheme. Many people in salaried roles may not even be aware of how rife this practice is, but right across the hourly-paid sector – whether you work in retail, warehousing, hospitality or care work – millions of workers don’t receive any sick pay until their fourth day of sickness absence.
This has two consequences. First, the obvious: millions of low-paid workers lose out on much-needed pay, just because they have fallen ill. Secondly, many workers simply cannot afford to take time off even if they are ill and are therefore forced to attend work when they shouldn’t, spreading bugs across the workplace.
This issue became very visible during Covid, but any lessons that could have been learned by the Tories were quickly forgotten as the pandemic eased. Workers have been left struggling on reduced pay at a time when they need support. Ending this practice will have a huge impact for millions of working people in Britain, making the workplace at once fairer and safer.
Anti-trade union laws will also be repealed
As part of Labour’s New Deal plan, the party will repeal the anti-union laws brought in over the last 14 years.
Unions do all they can to help individual members, but their real strength comes from collective agreements, overcoming individual unfairness in rates of pay and working conditions. Unionised workplaces are much more likely to provide decent pay, job security and respect for staff. That is why Labour has pledged to restore the right of unions to be recognised and heard by employers.
The New Deal has been negotiated with unions and working people because they and their families are at breaking point. Labour offers hope and a way forward.