A ban on zero-hours contracts and a repeal of the Trade Union Act have been pledged by Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith
Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith has unveiled 20 pledges a labour government under him would introduce.
Smith’s policies include:
- A pledge to focus on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.
- Plans to scrap the DWP and replace it with a Ministry for Labour and a Department for Social Security.
- Plans to introduce modern wages councils for hotel, shop and care workers to strengthen terms and conditions.
- Banning zero-hours contracts.
- Ending the public sector pay freeze.
- Extending the right to information and consultation to cover all workplaces with more than 50 employees.
- Ensuring worker representation on remuneration committees.
- Repealing the Trade Union Act, which allows employers to break strikes by bringing in agency workers to cover for strikers.
Regarding a blanket ban on zero-hours contracts, Beverley Sunderland, managing director of Crossland Employment Solicitors, pointed out that this could be potentially detrimental to those workers who benefit from such arrangements.
“While zero-hours contracts have received some very poor press in recent months, it is said that this kind of arrangement does work for some, giving them the flexibility to pick and choose when they work,” she told HR magazine. “Before implementing a knee-jerk blanket ban on such contracts, perhaps more research is needed and if indeed there is support for an arrangement of this kind, then consideration should be given for a middle ground which allows flexibility but also provides greater rights.”
Commenting on Smith’s pledge to end the public sector pay freeze, Tom Stenner-Evans, a specialist in public sector work and senior associate at law firm Michelmores, said more analysis was required to determine the viability of this. “While the decision to end the public sector pay freeze would be welcomed by employees at all levels, further analysis of whether that would be financially viable would most likely be required,” he said.
He added that Smith’s pledges represented highly employee- rather than employer-orientated intentions. “Repealing the Trade Union Act 2016, which has been welcomed by many employers, would be a divisive move, but would likely ensure ongoing support from the unions. The blanket ban on zero-hours contracts will bring mixed reactions, particularly as both employers and employees often value the flexibility that such contracts can afford when used appropriately and properly,” he added.
The Labour leadership contest will be settled in September. Smith is standing against incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn.