From education to employment

TUC: Government’s broken promise on employment bill will see “bad bosses celebrating”

TUC: Government’s broken promise on employment bill will see “bad bosses celebrating”

  • Vital rights ministers had promised like default flexible working, fair tips and pregnancy discrimination protections risk being ditched “for good”
  • New seafarer minimum wage plans are likely “unworkable” and won’t prevent a repeat of P&O, warns union body

The TUC has today (Tuesday) accused the government of “turning its back” on working people after ministers failed to include an employment bill in the Queen’s Speech.

The union body said that the government’s broken promise to boost workers’ rights will see “bad bosses celebrating”.

In 2019, the government announced it would bring forward a new employment bill to improve people’s rights at work, but despite committing to the bill on at least 20 occasions, ministers have shelved the legislation.

Commenting on the decision to exclude an employment bill from today’s Queen’s Speech, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The prime minister promised to make Britain the best place in the world to work. But he has turned his back on working people.

“Today, bad bosses up and down the country will be celebrating.

“No employment bill means vital rights that ministers had promised – like default flexible working, fair tips and protection from pregnancy discrimination – risk being ditched for good.

“And it means no action on the scourge of insecure work and ending exploitative practices like zero-hours contracts and fire and rehire.

“After the P&O scandal, dragging our outdated labour laws into the 21st century has never been more urgent.

“But by shelving the employment bill, ministers have sent a signal that they are happy for rogue employers to ride roughshod over workers’ rights.

“Enough is enough. This is a government that just doesn’t get it – from the cost of living emergency to the insecure work epidemic.

“People can’t wait for greater rights and security at work – they need it now.”

On the seafarer minimum wage enforcement plans, O’Grady added:

“This proposal is feeble and likely unworkable.

“The government has done nothing to tackle the most flagrant labour abuse in years by  P&O.

“Only stronger employment legislation that boosts worker protections and stops companies firing on the spot will prevent another P&O-type scandal.”

The TUC says that the following policies were all promised within an employment bill, and are now risk being ditched altogether:

  • Ensure that tips go to workers in full.
  • Introduce a new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract.
  • Create a new single enforcement body offering greater protections for workers.
  • Extend redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  • Make flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.
  • Allow parents to take extended paid leave for neonatal care.
  • Introduce a new legal entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers.

In addition, the government consulted on reasonable notice period for shifts allocated and cancelled, and payments for cancelled shifts, which the TUC points out the government has “since gone quiet on.”

The union body also highlights that the government promise to make employers responsible for preventing sexual harassment risks falling by the wayside without the employment bill, as the policy needs primary legislation to carry it forward.

Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, a leading think tank for improving work in the UK:

The Queen’s Speech represented a vital opportunity for the Government to take action to support people through the cost of living crisis, and deliver on its manifesto commitment to strengthen employment protections and rights for millions of low paid workers. It is very disappointing therefore to see that these opportunities have been missed.

Urgent support for those most at risk for rising inflation is required, including the immediate uprating of Universal Credit payments. And the fact remains that the Government cannot hope to deliver on its ambition to Level Up the country without driving up employment standards and increasing the number of higher quality, better paid and more secure jobs on offer.”

Notes from TUC:

-In the notes to the 2019 Queen’s Speech, the government said it would bring forward the employment bill to:

  • Protect and enhance workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU, making Britain the best place in the world to work.
  • Promote fairness in the workplace, striking the right balance between the flexibility that the economy needs and the security that workers deserve.
  • Strengthen workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment by creating a new, single enforcement body.
  • Offer greater protections for workers by prioritising fairness in the workplace, and introducing better support for working families.
  • Build on existing employment law with measures that protect those in low-paid work and the gig economy.

-In the 2019 Conservative manifesto, the following promises were made on employment rights:

  • We will create a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law, whether by taking workers’ tips or refusing them sick pay.
  • We will ensure that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract and other reasonable protections.
  • We will encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to.
  • We have reformed redundancy law so companies cannot discriminate against women immediately after returning from maternity leave.
  • We will legislate to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care, to support those new mothers and fathers who need it during the most vulnerable and stressful days of their lives.
  • We will look at ways to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave.
  • We will extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women, to a week.

About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

Related Articles