Owen Smith Launches Workplace Manifesto

Many Businesses Will Be Resistant To Day One Employment Rights, Says Lawyer

03.08.2016

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Labour Leader candidate, Owen Smith, has published his workplace manifesto containing 25 pledges aimed at improving worker rights.

Unveiled on 2 August, the list of proposals include the abolition of fees for employment tribunals, employment rights from day one and the abolition of zero hour contracts.

The proposals which will strengthen union recognition and bargaining rights, also include new Equal Pay legislation to close the gender pay gap.

In a speech on Wednesday, Mr Smith will also promise to push the minimum wage up to £8.25 an hour and force employers to give it to all adults on the payroll, not just the over-25s.

Increasing the minimum wage by £1.05 and removing the age requirements, would mean on a typical working year, a £5,369 pay rise for employees aged between 18 and 20, a £2,821 hike for 21 to 25-year-olds and an extra £1,911 for over-25s, according to Mr Smith.

Expert Opinion
“These manifesto pledges are clearly aimed at enhancing the appeal of Owen Smith to the unions and their members, particularly as many unions have already indicated that they will support Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election.

“Under these proposals the power will shift back towards the unions; collective bargaining will become the norm in the public sector and wages councils will be introduced in the hospitality, retail and social care sectors. He has pledged to make it easier to call strike action and to repeal legislation introduced earlier this year, which is not yet in force. Jeremy Corbyn has made similar pledges.

“He also seeks to appeal to workers and promises a “revolution of worker’s rights” the most significant of which is what is known as “day one” rights providing rights for individuals from day one of their employment rather than having to build up a minimum period of service. Although not made explicit, this is likely to mean the right not to be unfairly dismissed and the right to receive a redundancy payment (although it is difficult to see how redundancy payments can be made until an individual has at least required 1 year’s service as the statutory formula for calculating this is based on the number of complete years served).

“Businesses are likely to be extremely resistant to day one unfair dismissal rights, not least because currently they enjoy the flexibility of being able to quickly dismiss staff that do not perform well. Workers are already protected from decisions made against them on discriminatory grounds – even before they are offered a job.

“It will be interesting to see if these pledges become firm commitments in the event that Smith wins the Labour leadership election in September.”
Glenn Hayes, Partner