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Labour backs call for ‘post-pandemic settlement’ for low-paid workers hit hardest by coronavirus

A recent report showed that low-paid workers had been hit hardest by the pandemic (PA)

2 min read

Labour has backed calls for a new “post-pandemic settlement” for low-paid workers to improve their pay, conditions and security.

The Resolution Foundation think tank is calling on ministers to remember those on low incomes who have been “at the heart of the current economic crisis”.  

It comes in the wake of analysis which showed that those on lower incomes had been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

Measures proposed by the Resolution Foundation include giving workers greater control over their hours and letting them choose how often they are paid. 

The qualifying period to submit a claim for unfair dismissal would also be cut to one year instead of two under such changes, giving workers greater job security. 

These new rights would be upheld by a Single Enforcement Body and new wage boards which would “drive up standards in problem industries”.

Hannah Slaughter, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain’s low-paid workers have been at the heart of the current economic crisis. 

“They are the most likely to have lost their jobs, or to have put their own health at risk by working on the frontline.

“The appreciation now being expressed for these workers is in stark contrast to the fact that for too long we have offered them a world of work based on insecurity and exploitation, not dignity and respect.”

She added: “Britain’s post-pandemic economy will look different from the one before coronavirus hit. For low earners that should be because the government has put in place a new settlement, based on more respect, higher pay, and better conditions at work.

Labour has already backed the proposals, arguing that there should be “no return to business as usual” once the crisis is over.

Responding to the plans, Labour's Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Andy McDonald said: "The pandemic has exacerbated insecurity, low pay and poor protections in the workplace for millions of people, including key workers such as carers and couriers who have sustained the country over the past months. 

“This risks the health and safety of workers, undermines efforts to stop the spread of the virus, and is creating an economic crisis for many workers.

"There should be no return to business as usual. There must be a new deal for workers that delivers higher pay and greater say at work, and for this to happen we need to extend collective bargaining rights."

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