May promises boost to workers’ rights

15 May 17

Theresa May is set to continue her pitch to traditional Labour voters as she unveils plans for the “greatest expansion in workers' rights by any Conservative government in history”.

May wants to introduce a new right for workers to get extended unpaid leave to care for family members who need full-time care. They would have their jobs and employment rights protected when they return to work.

Parents who lose a child will also be given rights to bereavement leave and people with fluctuating mental health conditions such as depression will be protected from discrimination under reforms to the Equalities Act, which currently covers only constant conditions.

The prime minister will also pledge to retain all workers' rights that are now guaranteed under EU law.

May is also expected to declare that the national living wage for workers aged 25 and over, currently £7.50 an hour, would rise in line with average earnings until 2022.

According to Labour, the Conservative proposals would amount to a watering down of the existing national wage - which they claim would leave the average full-time worker on the national living wage £2,283 worse off by 2020.

Ian Lavery, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, said the previous chancellor, George Osborne, had said the national living wage would hit £9 per hour by 2020. Reaching the level equivalent to “over 60% of median hourly earnings” by 2020.

Today, Labour say the Conservatives broken this promise and changed their commitment to increasing the national living wage only “in line with median incomes”.

This means that the national living wage will be £8.20 in 2020 as opposed to the promise of £9 per hour under Osborne.

Labour has committed to a so-called real living wage of £10 per hour by 2020.

Lavery added: “Theresa May is taking working people for fools.

“This morning she claimed she was standing up for working people, but hidden in the small print of her announcement is a cut to working people’s incomes.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “It is a joke to claim that the Tories are the defenders of workers’ rights.

“As a government they have introduced the most anti-trade union laws for decades and they have put justice out of reach for ordinary workers, who are bullied or harassed by their employer, by introducing fees for employment tribunals.

“As an employer they have treated our members across the civil service with contempt by cutting more than 110,000 civil and public service jobs and closing hundreds of offices.”

The 12-point commitment on workers' rights announced today include:

1 - Protection for all workers’ rights currently guaranteed by EU law. The Conservatives will guarantee all rights that workers currently enjoy as we leave the European Union.

2 - A commitment to increase the national living wage in line with median earnings until the end of the next parliament in 2022.

3 - New protections for ‘gig’ economy workers, following the Matthew Taylor review that Theresa May established in one of her first moves after becoming prime minister.

4 - Representation for workers on company boards, under the Conservatives’ wider reforms to corporate governance.

5 - A new statutory right to receive information about key decisions affecting your company’s future, subject to reasonable safeguards, and in keeping with but not exceeding the rights of shareholders.

6 - A new statutory right to request leave for training purposes, to help workers gain the skills they need to retain good, well-paid jobs.

7 - A new statutory right to leave to care for a family member, in line with other countries.

8 - New rules to protect workers’ pensions from irresponsible behaviour by company bosses, like unsustainable dividends and takeovers that put the future of the pension scheme at risk.

9 - Reforms to the Equalities Act [sic - it’s the Equality Act] to extend protections from discrimination to those suffering fluctuating or intermittent mental health conditions.

10 - A statutory right to child bereavement leave, for those who suffer the tragedy of losing a child.

11- The introduction of new returnships for people returning to the labour market from a period of absence, including from parenthood and elderly care.

12 - The government will extend the law requiring big firms, those with more than 250 workers, to publish gender pay gaps to also include racial pay gaps.

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