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Labour calls for workers’ rights from day one of job

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Labour has announced a policy to give all workers security at work by creating a single status of ‘worker’ for all but the genuinely self-employed, with rights from day one of employment.

The party say a single status of ‘worker’ would replace the three existing employment categories and remove qualifying periods for basic rights and protections to give workers rights from the day they start their job.

Currently there are some workers’ rights which do not come into force until an employee has been in a job for a certain period of time, for example the right to request flexible working, paternity and shared parental leave, statutory maternity pay, and adoption leave.

As part of Labour’s plan to end insecure employment, all workers would receive rights and protections including Statutory Sick Pay, National Minimum Wage entitlement, holiday pay, paid parental leave, and protection against unfair dismissal.

Labour also plans to extend Statutory Sick Pay to the self-employed. This would make 6.1 million additional working people eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay.

The proposal follows a number of key legal cases on the gig economy where the central dispute was whether the claimant was a worker, and thus entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay, or self-employed.

Andy McDonald, Labour’s shadow employment rights and protections secretary, said: “Millions of workers are in insecure employment with low pay and few rights and protections, particularly key workers whose efforts got the country through the pandemic.

“A lack of basic rights and protections forces working people into poverty and insecurity. This is terrible for working people, damaging for the economy, and as we have seen throughout the pandemic, devastating for public health.

“We need a new deal for working people. Labour would ensure that all work balances the flexibility workers want with the security they deserve.”

Labour also says it wants to ban ‘fire and rehire’ practices where an employer dismisses staff and then aims to rehire them under new, often poorer, terms and conditions.