• Friday, July 12, 2024

Business

Labour’s employment law proposals reassure business leaders

Labour’s proposed reforms target outdated employment laws, including the banning of exploitative zero-hours contracts and ending “fire and rehire” practices.

According to opinion polls, Labour leader Keir Starmer is all set to be Britain’s next prime minister. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Labour’s strong polling ahead of the 4th July election has initially left British business leaders anxious about potential changes to employment laws.

They had feared that Labour, if elected, would impose stringent regulations on hiring, firing, pay, and conditions, which could stifle growth.

However, after engaging with the centre-left party, several top executives now express a more relaxed stance.

“I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve heard, as have my peers,” said Alex Baldock, CEO of Currys, a company that employs 14,000 people in Britain. “Of course, it’s commendable to seek to protect people, but there needs to be a balance here.”

Labour’s proposed reforms target outdated employment laws, including the banning of exploitative zero-hours contracts and ending “fire and rehire” practices. They also aim to introduce basic rights such as parental leave, sick pay from day one of employment, and ensuring the national minimum wage is a genuine living wage.

Labour plans to consult extensively with businesses, workers, and civil society before finalising legislation.

“The broad thrust of this is one that is good for Britain’s workers and good for Britain’s businesses,” noted Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s business policy chief.

Despite initial concerns, some business leaders, like Tesco’s CEO Ken Murphy and Marks & Spencer’s CEO Stuart Machin, have indicated they are not overly worried about the proposed changes. Tesco, with its UK workforce of about 270,000, and Marks & Spencer, employing 40,000 store workers, highlight existing practices that align with Labour’s proposed reforms.

However, not all stakeholders are entirely satisfied. Unions, including Unite, one of Britain’s largest, expressed disappointment over what they perceive as a softening of worker protections in Labour’s manifesto.

“We want Britain’s companies to make profits, we want them to employ people,” Reynolds emphasised. “And that is what a successful economy requires.”

(Reuters)

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