General Election 2017: Conservatives face criticism for pledge to boost workers' rights

Helen Cahill
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Theresa May Campaigns In Labour's Heartland Of North Tyneside
The party is seeking out Labour voters (Source: Getty)

The Conservatives have been eyeing up the Labour vote this morning, promising more protection for workers.

Key promises include:

  • A year of unpaid leave for people caring for a sick relative
  • Giving employees a voice on company boards
  • Safeguards for workers in the so-called "gig" economy.

Read more: Theresa May reveals a raft of new measures on workers' rights

But business groups, and rival politicians, have levied criticism at Prime Minister Theresa May's plans.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Craig Beaumont, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said small businesses find employment rules "the toughest ones to grapple with" and that the Conservatives' pledges were "adding to the morass" of pre-existing regulation.

He added:

What they don't like is having a diktat from the centre that says, "here is what you must do, and by the way, this is regulation number 1,046."

Edwin Morgan, deputy director of the Institute for Directors, said that representation of workers on boards was "laudable" but that it "might not work for every firm".

Meanwhile, Labour politicians pointed to May's record on workers' rights.

Labour's Chuka Umunna tweeted that the Prime Minister was "no champion of workers rights" and criticised her for supporting employment tribunal fees, and for putting curbs on workers' claims of unfair dismissal. She also downgraded the Equality and Human Rights Commission, he said, a body which works to end workplace discrimination.

David Lammy, Labour's candidate for Tottenham, said that the introduction of employment tribunal fees was responsible for a 79 per cent fall in workers making claims against their employers.

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