Labour Government: change in employment law

Published date01 February 1998
Date01 February 1998
AuthorJohn Gennard
Subject MatterHR & organizational behaviour
Labour Government: change
in employment law
John Gennard
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
The Labour Government’s philosophy towards employment law changes was
outlined, before the 1997 General Election, in the Labour Party publication
Building Prosperity: Flexibility, Efficiency and Fairness at Work (1996). It seeks
to promote labour market flexibility based on minimum standards and security
of employment for all employees. Three principles underpin this approach.
First, every person at work should be guaranteed properly enforced basic
minimum standards. Second, labour market flexibility must be promoted.
Third, job security comes from employability resulting from employee training
and development.
Building Prosperity proposed minimum standards of fairness based on
individual employment rights and rejected trade union immunities as the basis
for legislative changes. It rejected a future Labour Government undertaking a
repeal of the main elements of the previous government’s legislation. The
objective of establishing a framework supporting labour market flexibility
combined with fair treatment for employees from their employer would be
achieved by an incoming Labour Government commitment to:
end age discrimination;
review industrial tribunal procedures to provide greater fairness and to
reduce the delays experienced by those using the system;
give individuals the right to representation, including by a trade union,
in disciplinary and grievance proceedings;
allow individuals choosing to join a trade union not to be discriminated
against for doing so by their employer;
restore, to staff at GCHQ, the right to belong to a trade union;
oblige employers to recognise a trade union for collective bargaining
purposes where a majority of the relevant workforce vote to be
represented by a union;
permit unfair dismissal claims by those dismissed for participating in
lawful industrial action;
end the need for trade unions to obtain periodic reauthorisation from
their members for payroll deduction of their subscriptions.
Taking these with its commitments to introduce a national minimum wage and
to sign the Social Chapter, a Labour Government hopes to provide a new
Received December1997
Accepted December
Employee Relations,
Vol. 20 No. 1, 1998, pp. 12–25
© MCB University Press, 0142-5455

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