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CIPD - Workplace reforms should play a key part in election debate

Broad package of measures announced by the Conservatives shows why workplace reforms should be at the heart of the election campaign

Commenting on the Conservative Party’s policy announcement on workers’ rights and other workplace reforms, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

“This broad package of measures acknowledges the important debate that we need to have about the future of our workplaces in this election. It’s welcome to see a specific focus on this, particularly as it highlights many of the issues that the CIPD identified in our own ‘Manifesto for Work’, released last week.

“However, the success of any of these measures will only be seen if the next government commits to working in partnership with business to see them through and ensure they work in practice.

“We welcome the commitment to the outcomes of the Taylor Review, and we’ve been engaged with Matthew Taylor on the issue of good work and employee protections in the gig economy. Giving clarity to the employment status and rights of gig economy workers is much needed, but we need to ensure we find the right balance between flexibility and security for workers and for employers as the world of work evolves. As we move beyond traditional employment frameworks it’s very important that people really understand what their employment rights are. We’re calling for the next government to commit to launch a ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign to ensure that employees have better information in an increasingly fragmented world of work and we hope to see all parties supporting this.

“The right to request leave for training purposes is a welcome step, although more detail and consultation on how this will be applied is needed, especially as we have seen with flexible working that the right to request itself is not a silver bullet. The biggest obstacle facing people in developing new skills is falling employer investment in skills and workplace training. With the growth of self-employment and contract work, and increased job mobility, how people will be supported for training and lifelong learning is a key question. This is why the CIPD has called for the piloting of revised individual learning accounts to encourage and help people to invest in their own lifelong learning. Equally, we have proposed a rethink of the apprenticeship levy to create a more flexible training levy which would benefit a greater number of employers and individuals’ needs.

“While we welcome the steps to improve employee voice in business, it is disappointing that the announcement is not bolder. Non-executive directors representing employees is unlikely to give workers enough meaningful voice in the workplace. We call on the next government to commit to a more robust package of reforms, rather than a potentially tokenistic measure which may not deliver the changes we need to see.”

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