The Conservatives won the 2019 General Election with a manifesto promise of a post-Brexit Britain where they would “raise standards in areas like workers’ rights”. Specifically, they would:

  • “Achieve the right regulatory balance between supporting excellent business practice and protecting workers”
  • “Prioritise the principle of fairness in the workplace, whether it is in the job application process, ensuring equal pay for equal work, or people’s working conditions”
  • “Create a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law, whether by taking workers’ tips or refusing them sick pay”
  • “Ensure workers have the right to request a more predictable contract”, and
  • “Extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers, the majority of whom are women, to a week”.

So far, nothing. Just broken promises.


The government’s false promises: A timeline


  • January 2021

    What they said: Rumours surfaced about the government rowing back on workers’ rights, including the 48-hour working week.

    What they did: The government denied the rumours, then confirmed the review, before finally stating that “the review is no longer happening.”

  • March 2021

    What they said: Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the locations of eight English freeports, part of an initiative he claimed would create 86,000 jobs.

    What they did: No further detail has been given and Thompsons – alongside several trade unions – fear it will be just an excuse to carve out zones with weakened workers’ rights.

  • May 2021

    What they said: There would be 'reforms' to workers' rights in the Queen’s Speech.

    What they did: There was nothing in the Queen’s speech. While they insist there is still a commitment to bringing in an Employment Bill, there is no timeframe.

  • June 2021

    What they said: That they were committed to improving workers’ rights.

    What they did: The government shifted focus to implement elements of the Trade Union Act 2021, dealing with enforcement powers and a levy mechanism for the Certification Officer from April 2022. These measures will only burden trade unions further.

  • June 2021

    What they said: Employers should treat their workers 'with respect'.

    What they did: ​They have consistently failed to address businesses employing immoral ‘fire and rehire’ tactics throughout the pandemic.​

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