Labour MP Angela Rayner has called on the government to bring forward its promised employment bill to enshrine the right to work flexibly in law post-Covid after Rishi Sunak endorsed people returning to the office as “really beneficial”.
“The Chancellor seems to be the only person who doesn’t recognise the benefits that flexible working can deliver to workers and employers alike,” the Shadow Future of Work Secretary and deputy Labour leader said.
“The Chancellor should check the manifesto that he was elected on in 2019 which committed the government to making flexible working the default. The Chancellor and his colleagues should bring forward the government’s promised employment bill so we can enshrine the right to flexible working in law,” Rayner added.
The Employment Bill was originally confirmed in December 2019, when the Queen delivered a speech in which she outlined the Government’s proposal for the legislation. Much of the bill was set to implement recommendations from the Good Work Plan, published in July 2017, and includes policies which will impact on independent workers. There are key changes such as the right to a more predictable and stable work contract, extending redundancy protection for people on maternity leave, a single enforcement body for workers’ rights and business compliance and a week’s leave for unpaid carers.
However, the bill has been delayed due to COVID, and ominously was missing from the most recent Queen’s Speech earlier this year. At the time, Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, stated that the Bill would be introduced when the “time was right” and “not while the pandemic is ongoing”.
There are however increasing concerns that the planned legislation will not happen, and Rayner’s comments come as the Labour Party recently pledged to create a single status of “worker” for all which would provide workers’ key rights from day one on the job.