The Work-Life Balance Promises of Labour’s Employment Policies

At the close of the past election, the UK has found itself with a new government leading. But now that means that Labour has to get to work on implementing the changes it promised during its campaign. What are these changes? Well, we were most interested in the New Deal for Working People green paper, which outlined some promising changes for workplace culture and regulations for working people. Will all of the Labour employment policies become a reality? That remains to be seen, but we’re taking a closer look at the particular focus Labour has on work-life balance. What will it mean for employees going forward?

Four-Day Working Week

This should be taken with a pinch of salt. The New Deal for Working People green paper doesn’t firmly take a stance on the idea of a four-day work week but promises to look into the idea. The four-day work week is much like it sounds: reduce hours to four days – or 32 hours – but keep the same salary. The Labour green paper outlines plans for a gradual implementation to have this become a reality within a decade.

It’s definitely one of the more radical ideas in the green paper, but one that employees are likely to welcome. It would allow for another job if needed or more time with the family in order to, as per Labour’s promise, allow for a better work-life balance.

Flexible Working

At the moment, flexible working is still a concept that often gets pushed back on or offered as a benefit of a job. More often than not, you might have to fight for it. However, the new Labour employment policies could see employers have to justify why a job they offer cannot be done flexibly. This would shift the burden of proof from the employee to the employer. Additionally, flexible working will be offered from day one of employment as a standard.

This Labour employment policy covers various forms of flexible working, including flexible hours, remote working, job sharing, compressed hours and part-time options. Labour politicians argue that this would be particularly beneficial to professional women, allowing them to juggle home and office life more effectively.

Right to Disconnect

Unfortunately, as a knock-on effect of working from home, some employers and team managers don’t understand when not to contact their employees. It’s very hard to switch off from work when working from home, be it mentally or literally when teammates can contact you from dozens of apps across various devices.

The Labour employment policies addressing this intend to create the Right to Disconnect as law. Additionally, there will be the aim to compensate workers for overtime and protect workers’ personal time.

Extended Parental Leave

The New Deal for Working People green paper also makes moves for equality between the genders and makes life easier for parents with extended parental leave. The Labour employment policies would see maternity leave extended from 9 months to 12 months and paternity leave extended, though no specific duration was detailed in the green paper. However, it did say that the concept is being discussed in order to encourage more involvement from fathers in early childcare. Additionally, there are proposals put forward to revamp the current Shared Parental Leave (SPL) reforms to make it more accessible and appealing to workers.

Zero-Hour Contracts

One of the most widely known Labour employment policies is the idea to outright ban zero-hour contracts. Currently, zero-hour contracts allow businesses to employ workers without the guarantee of work. Staff are not guaranteed a set number of hours or a reliable income.

Labour plans to ban exploitative zero-hour contracts, which does not mean a blanket ban, but a targeted ban on zero-hour contracts that are used unfairly. It is proposed that the zero-hour contract should be upgraded to a regular contract after 12 weeks with regular hours assured. Additionally, there will be a statutory minimum notice period for allocating or cancelling shifts implemented.

And there’s more…

There is a lot more to the New Deal for Working People green paper, which attacks issues like the gig economy, unfair dismissal, and even an extension of the protections of “employees” to “workers”.

Conclusion

It should be noted that there is likely to be a lot of negotiations as and when these new regulations are enforced. Although all of these Labour employment policies are in the favour of the employee, there still might be some pushback. If you care about any of these ideas for your work life, you might need to hire a mediator. Contracts will need to be reviewed and business policies will have to be established.

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