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CIPD welcomes focus on skills and modernising employment rights

Proposals announced by the Labour Party are welcome but more clarity required on skills policy and plans to modernise employment rights without undermining the UK's flexible labour market

Commenting on the workplace proposals as set out in the Labour Manifesto, Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

On skills:

“The strong focus on skills and lifelong learning is welcome, given the challenges the UK’s ageing workforce faces in terms of skills and investment in training, as well as the impact of technology on jobs and the labour market. Plans to boost investment in further education and improve the quality of skills advice and guidance are also positive.

“To further boost skills in the UK we would call on the next government to pilot revised Individual Learning Accounts to provide people with more opportunities to invest in their skills development. We would also urge them to reframe the Apprenticeship Levy as a more flexible Training Levy, so the funds can be used for a much wider range of training opportunities that include more people in the workforce.”

On executive pay:

“While the focus on high pay is welcome, a hard ratio cap for public sector organisations and those private sector organisations looking to bid for public sector contracts, may not deliver the desired increase in transparency. The risk is that firms looking to bid for public contracts will move towards reward packages that rely more heavily on non-pay elements such as share options. This would likely decrease transparency and make it even harder to draw a clear link between executive reward and corporate performance.

“It would be better for the next government to require publicly-listed companies to publish their pay ratios, in order to shine a light on the link between high pay and performance, and also ensure that executives are more accountable to their shareholders and employees.”

On workers’ rights:

“We welcome the focus on employment rights and the need to modernise the law in this area. It is important that in making any changes to the UK’s employment rights framework and the complex issue of employment status, the next government does not damage the UK’s flexible labour market and the benefits this provides for both employers and individuals. The CIPD would support the creation of a new commission to look at employment status and believe any changes to the definitions or tests around employment status should await a proper in-depth consultation on this issue.

“CIPD research highlights that gig economy workers are more satisfied than traditional workers when it comes to the flexibility of their work. Any changes to the employment law framework therefore needs to ensure that the flexibility that many people want and benefit from is maintained as part of any proposed solution. Otherwise, the risk is that some people are locked out of the labour market entirely as the flexible solutions they need cease to exist.”

On diversity:

“We welcome efforts to create more ethnically diverse workplaces and communities, for example by implementing the Parker Review recommendations to increase diversity on the boards of Britain’s largest companies. However far more clarity is needed over plans to introduce equal pay audits for large employers to support the progression of Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

“More broadly, we want to see a much greater focus from all parties on boosting inclusion and diversity in the workplace, with evidence showing that flexible employment and working practices are key to helping people who are disadvantaged in the labour market get into and on at work.”

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