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Election 2024: Labour to create fair work watchdog, Angela Rayner says

Labour is set to create an employment watchdog to enforce its workers rights reforms, Angela Rayner has said. Photo: PA
Labour is set to create an employment watchdog to enforce its workers rights reforms, Angela Rayner has said. Photo: PA

Labour is set to create an employment watchdog to enforce its workers rights reforms, Angela Rayner has said.

The party’s deputy leader and shadow secretary for the future of work told the Observer a Labour government – if elected – would create a Fair Work Agency watchdog with “real teeth”.

It comes after the party’s plan to shake up workers’ rights – the New Deal for Working People – was included in Labour’s manifesto ahead of the July 4 election, despite ongoing disputes with business groups and trade union backers, with Unite refusing to endorse the document.

Rayner told the newspaper: “Under the Tories, enforcement of workers’ rights is fragmented, overburdened and overstretched. That’s bad for workers, businesses and for our economy.”

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“Allowing those who don’t even pay the national minimum wage off scot-free only encourages a race to the bottom. Employers who want to do right by their workers are being badly let down, finding themselves undercut by those who refuse to play by the rules.”

She added: “Labour will act where the Conservatives have failed, establishing a Fair Work Agency to uphold and enforce rights and protections for working people.”

The agency will have powers to prosecute and fine firms that breach workers’ rights, as well as inspecting workplaces and lodging civil proceedings, the Observer reported, in a bid to enforce rights Labour wants to increase such as holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave.

It would see the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the National Minimum Wage unit and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate brought under the new body, it said.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said last week at the Times CEO summit that firms have “nothing to worry about” on Labour’s reforms to workers’ rights.

Mel Stride, work and pensions secretary, said: “Angela Rayner has just admitted what we knew all along – she’s got small businesses in her cross hairs.

“With an army of bureaucrats backed up by the Labour Party’s union paymasters, the Labour Party will overburden small, family businesses with more red tape and leave them constantly having to look over their shoulders for fear of being dragged into court.

“Small businesses will ultimately be the ones who pay the price for Labour’s ideological crusade.”