Sunak accused of ‘abject failure’ on workers’ rights as broken promises revealed
Rishi Sunak’s government has been accused of “abject failure” on employment rights, as new analysis shows the Conservatives have failed to implement dozens of promised protections for workers.
The Tories pledged to bring enhanced rights for millions of Britons after 2018’s landmark Taylor Review outlined major changes needed to boost working practices.
But five years on from the landmark report commissioned by Downing Street, Labour analysis shows only six of the review’s 26 recommendations have come into force.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the record a “devastating blow” to both employees and firms. “The Tories’ record on workers’ rights is one of broken promises and abject failure,” she said.
Ms Rayner added: “The Conservatives’ failure to deliver what they promised is a devastating blow to the millions of working people trapped in a cycle of low pay and insecure work, and employers who desperately need new guidance and regulations to keep up with the modern realities of work.”
Despite the Tory government’s promise to “embrace” the Taylor review recommendations – labelling the proposals “the largest upgrade in a generation to workers’ rights” – 20 proposals have fallen by the wayside, according to Labour analysis.
Matthew Taylor, Theresa May’s former employment tsar, recently accused the Tory government of “abandoning” his proposals – including rights allowing workers to ask for more predictable contracts and stronger paternity leave rights for men.
“There comes a point when repeated delay starts to feel like an abandonment of an agenda,” he told The Guardian last month, amid widespread public sector strikes over pay and conditions.
He added: “That is a great pity because, at a time when industrial relations are at the forefront, the challenge of improving the quality of work is, if anything, even more urgent than when I wrote my report.”
Labour highlighted the lack of action on the Taylor review’s proposal for workers on zero-hours contracts for 12 months getting the right to request a contract that better reflects the hours they work.
Sir Keir Starmer’s party said it would ban zero-hour contracts entirely, and ensure anyone working for 12 weeks or more will gain a right to a regular contract to reflect the hours usually worked.
Ms Rayner said a Labour government would deliver “a stronger, fairer and more aspirational future of work for Britain fit for our modern economy”.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Mr Sunak’s ministers considered moving unemployed people who have been off sick long-term up NHS waiting lists in a bid to encourage them to get back into work.
But reports suggest that the proposal is unlikely to go ahead because of NHS rules which mean decisions must be based on clinical need rather than employment status or any other factor.
Conservative MPs have urged the government to consider giving agency employees the right to request more predictable terms and conditions, arguing that it could help in its quest to get more over-50s back to work.
Tory MP Scott Benton’s Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill – which would let workers request a predictable working pattern – has cleared the second reading stage and has won support from across the Commons.