UK academics declare Labour’s employment law reforms offer “a credible plan of action.”

Over 50 employment Law specialists in the UK have written a open letter on the Labour Party’s employment law plans, which offer the most comprehensive extension of employment protections for workers in living memory,  to be “a credible plan of action.”

The full text of the letter, published on 6 December 2019, reads:

“Britain’s labour laws are in desperate need of reform. Working people are increasingly
engaged in work that pays poorly, is insecure, and contains few avenues of redress if
they are treated unfairly by their employers. In-work poverty is at a record high. In the
large majority of families in poverty (60%) there is at least one person in work. The
current government boasts about record low unemployment figures whilst at the same
time it fails to protect workers from poverty pay and insecurity.

Evidence shows that collective bargaining helps to improve productivity and secure
stable and well-paying jobs. In 1979, over 80% of UK workers were covered by collective
agreements, but today that figure is less than 26%. The decline in collective bargaining
was hastened by waves of anti-union legislation that began in the 1980s. Today, British
trade union laws are some of the most restrictive in the Western world.

The Labour Party’s 2019 manifesto proposes significant labour law reform, explaining:
“[w]ork should provide a decent life for all, guaranteeing not just dignity and respect in
the workplace, but also the income and leisure time to allow for a fulfilling life outside
it.” We believe that this vision is backed up by a credible plan of action.

Labour will support the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining to set minimum
terms and conditions covering all workers in UK sectors. Enterprise-based collective
bargaining will be boosted so that employers and workers can negotiate agreements
suited to the needs of their workplace. Labour will introduce a real “living wage” and
require employers to replace zero-hour contracts with minimum hours contracts based
on a new right to regular hours. It will ensure that the full range of employment
protections are available to all workers from day one of employment and it will create a
properly resourced government agency to proactively enforce these rights. Race and
gender pay equality will be achieved by making the state responsible for enforcing equal
pay legislation and by requiring employers to publicly report on pay disparities for BAME workers.

Labour will also introduce several important corporate governance reforms for large
businesses, such as worker representatives on boards and the creation of “inclusive
ownership funds”, which have the potential to radically democratise the economy.
Collectively, we have spent many decades studying labour law and industrial relations in
the United Kingdom. We believe that the Labour Party is the only party with a
transformative plan to create jobs that offer security, fair pay and dignity at work as well
as an economy that works for the many.

 

Yours sincerely,

Joe Atkinson, Lecturer in Law, University of Sheffield
Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship, University of
Bristol
Diamond Ashiagbor, Professor of Law, University of Kent
Katie Bales, Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol
Elizabeth Barmes, Professor of Labour Law, Queen Mary University of London
Alessio Bertolini, Research Associate, University of Glasgow
Ed Blissett, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations, University of Hertfordshire
Alan Bogg, Professor of Labour Law, University of Bristol
Douglas Brodie, Professor of Employment law, University of Strathclyde
Nicole Busby, Professor of Human Rights, Equality and Justice, University of Glasgow
David Cabrelli, Professor of Labour Law, University of Edinburgh
Genevieve Coderre-LaPalme, Lecturer in Employment Relations, University of
Birmingham
Phillipa Collins, Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter
Joanne Conaghan, Professor of Law, University of Bristol
Nicola Countouris, Professor of Labour Law and European Law, UCL
Anne Davies, Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Oxford
Simon Deakin, Professor of Law, University of Cambridge
Manoj Dias-Abey, Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol
Tony Dobbins, Professor of Employment Relations, University of Birmingham
Ruth Dukes, Professor of Labour Law, University of Glasgow
Keith Ewing, Professor of Labour Law, King’s College London
Mark Freedland QC (Hon), FBA, Emeritus Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Gregor Gall, Visiting Professor of Industrial Relations, University of Leeds
Emily Grabham, Professor of Law, University of Kent
Lydia Hayes, Professor of Law, University of Kent
Lord Hendy QC, Old Square Chambers
Richard Hyman, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Relations, LSE
Gregoris Ioannou, Research Fellow, University of Glasgow
Philip James, Professor of Employment Relations, Middlesex University London
Aristea Koukiadaki, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester
Genevieve LeBaron, Professor of Politics, University of Sheffield
Virginia Mantouvalou, Professor of Human Rights and Labour Law, UCL
Aileen McColgan, Barrister, 11 King’s Bench Walk
Ewan McGaughey, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London
Susan Milner, Reader in European Politics, University of Bath
Tonia Novitz, Professor of Labour Law, University of Bristol
Vera Pavlou, Lecturer in Labour Law, University of Glasgow
Amir Paz-Fuchs, Professor of Law and Social Justice, University of Sussex
Mauro Pucheta, Lecturer in Law, Kingston University London
Lisa Rodgers, Lecturer, Leicester University
Emily Rose, Lecturer in Law, University of Strathclyde
Bernard Ryan, Professor of Migration Law, University of Leicester

Gregory Schwartz, Senior Lecturer in Management, University of Bristol
Roger Seifert, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Relations, University of Wolverhampton
Robert Smale, Freelance Researcher and Writer
Inga Thiemann, Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter
Huw Thomas, Lecturer in Management (Industrial Relations), University of Bristol
Peter Turnbull, Professor of Management and Industrial Relations, University of Bristol
Fotis Vergis, Lecturer in Law, University of Manchester
David Walters, Emeritus Professor, Cardiff University
David Whyte, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, University of Liverpool
Steve Williams, Reader in Employment Relations, University of Portsmouth
Alex Wood, Lecturer in the Sociology of Work, University of Birmingham