Board level worker representatives among Conservatives manifesto pledges

The Conservative Party has said it will give workers family time off and will raise minimum wages in line with average earnings.

The Conservative manifesto to be published ahead of the 8 June election has vowed to keep all workers' rights guaranteed by EU law, add worker representatives to company boards and protect pensions.

There would also be a statutory right to a year's unpaid leave to care for a relative and statutory leave for parents whose child has died.

Other measures would include new protections for people in the 'gig economy' (freelancers and those working primarily on short-term contracts), a statutory right to training, measures to protect workers' pensions and a guarantee that European Union rights will be protected in the Brexit process.

The National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over, currently £7.50 an hour, would rise in line with average earnings until 2022.

Labour, meanwhile has promised to end zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships if they win the general election.

It will also scrap the public sector pay cap, which has left workers facing a £1,700 drop in annual pay by 2020. The minimum wage will be raised to match the National Living Wage, or at least to £10 per hour by 2020.

Commenting on the pledges, British Retail Consortium employment and skills policy adviser Fionnuala Horrocks-Burns said: "Retailers will work with the next government to ensure the retail jobs of the future are as attractive, accessible and as well-remunerated as possible. With new jobs demanding new skills across the industry, providing retailers and their workforces with certainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations is a welcome step forward. 

"On wages, it is important the Low Pay Commission retain their independence and recommend pay increases that are manageable for the whole economy. Retailers support the National Living Wage and continue to work hard to raise pay across the industry but increasing pay without considering wider economic conditions is unsustainable.  

"The ‘people agenda’ is front and centre of the retail industry. Retail businesses employ a variety of different models to ensure the views of their workforces are heard by their board. Strengthening this voice is a positive step to support employee engagement and productivity but there must be flexibility in how individuals’ businesses do this in practice."

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