Tories pledge workers' rights

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The Conservative manifesto will pledge to keep EU workers' rights and put worker representation on boards

Prime minister Theresa May is promising the biggest expansion of workers' rights by any Conservative government and a “new deal” for workers, ahead of the June general election.

The Conservative manifesto, set to be published this week, will pledge to keep all workers' rights currently guaranteed by EU law and put worker representation on listed company boards.

It will also promise new protections for people in the gig economy, a statutory right to training, and measures to protect workers' pensions in the wake of the BHS scandal.

When released, the Conservative manifesto will also include a statutory right to a year's unpaid leave to care for a relative, and outline plans to allow for statutory leave for parents whose child has died. The Conservative party website states that the party is “prepared to intervene when markets are not working for hardworking families".

May will announce the plans on a visit to a training facility in the South East. She will say: "By working with business, reducing taxes, and dealing with the deficit, we have delivered steady improvements to the economic prospects of working people. Now is the time to lock in that economic growth and ensure the proceeds are spread to everyone in our country."

Under the Tories’ proposals, however, and following an apparent backtrack at November's CBI annual conference, listed companies will not have to appoint a workers’ representative directly to their board. Instead they could choose to designate a non-executive director as the 'employee representative' or create an advisory panel, provoking Labour to describe this pledge as "watered down".

Labour also responded that the Tories had overseen an "era of non-compliance of employment law", an "explosion in low pay and stagnating wages" and a "massive expansion in bogus self-employment".

In a leaked version of the Labour party manifesto Jeremy Corbyn has also focused on strengthening workers’ rights. The manifesto is expected to include a ban on zero-hours contracts, a repeal of the Trade Union Act, and guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to work.

It is also expected to scrap the public sector pay cap and reintroduce national pay bargaining, and increase income tax for the highest-earning 5%.

However, the leaked manifesto has been dismissed by Theresa May as a promise to take "us back to the past".

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