Rishi Sunak has abandoned Tory pledge on workers’ rights, says former jobs tsar


The Conservatives’ former employment tsar has accused Rishi Sunak of abandoning the party’s commitment to improving workers’ rights after the business minister said many of the policies in the 2019 manifesto would not be implemented imminently.

Matthew Taylor, who was recruited by Theresa May to conduct a wide-ranging review of Britain’s employment laws, said the government had delayed putting in place many of the measures he recommended in 2017.

He was commenting after Kevin Hollinrake, the business minister, said in a series of written answers that the government had no immediate plans to implement several of the policy proposals that stemmed from that review. Meanwhile, the government is about to unveil its controversial anti-strikes bill that some worry could undermine employment protections further.

Taylor told the Guardian: “There comes a point when repeated delay starts to feel like an abandonment of an agenda. 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.”

Taylor, who previously worked as head of the No 10 policy unit under Tony Blair, was recruited by May in October 2016 to lead a review of modern employment. His appointment was seen as a coup for the Conservatives, and a key plank in the party’s attempts to win over economically insecure Labour voters.

May spoke at the launch of the report in 2017, saying: “The issues it confronts go right to the heart of the government’s agenda and right to the heart of our values as a people.”

Many of Taylor’s policy recommendations were included in the party’s 2019 manifesto, but have barely been mentioned since. They included making it easier for men to take paternity leave, allowing workers to request more predictable contracts and creating a single regulator to enforce employment law.

In recent weeks, Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has tabled a series of parliamentary questions asking about the status of each of these pledges.

In response, Hollinrake said the government would legislate to encourage more predictable contracts only “if parliamentary time allows”. He refused to say whether the government still intended to update its guidance on unpaid internships, which it first promised to do in 2018. And he said the government was consulting on or analysing a range of other issues, including paternity rights and more predictable hours.

Asked whether the government still intended to create a single employment regulator he responded: “Timing will be dependent on the legislative timetable.”

Source: The Guardian