Election 2024: Fairness and rights at work

Prospect represents nearly 158,000 members working in the public and private sectors across the UK. Our members are skilled professionals, whose work contributes a huge amount to the UK’s success.

Workers are happier, healthier and more productive when their workplace rights are prioritised, with employees and employers reaping the benefits. 

The problem

  • There have been several high-profile examples of employers riding roughshod over existing employment protections, for example at Twitter and P&O.  
  • UK productivity is around 16% below the US and Germany, and productivity has stagnated since the financial crisis.  
  • 2.8 million people were out of work due to ill health between October and December 2023, up around 625,000 compared to 2019. Poor mental health is key driver for young people. 
  • The gender pension gap is vast, more than double that of the gender pay gap.
The gender pay gap currently stands at 37.9%
Number of people out of work due to ill health between October and December 2023 2.8 million

What we want to see happen

The next government needs to shift the balance of power towards workers and unions to end poor employment practices and make work fair. Bad employers should be deterred from breaking the law by proper sanctions that are followed through with. Workers must be involved and at the heart of any decisions taken.  

We want the next government to: 

1. A thorough review of unfair dismissal and collective redundancy rules 

This should include larger damages where employers don’t follow the rules and allowing unions to apply for injunctions to stop dismissals taking place without consultation. Rule-breakers should be barred from holding senior positions, in the same way that the finance regulator can deem a person to not be “fit and proper” to run a bank.  

2. Increase compensation for the victims of cowboy employers 

The maximum compensation of 90 days’ pay for a failure to consult should become a minimum, with the cap raised to at least six months. It shouldn’t be cheaper for employers to break the law and pay the fine than to do the right thing.  

Workers whose employer goes into liquidation should be entitled to the same level of payout as all other workers, rather than having a cap on their entitlement at eight weeks of pay at a maximum of £571 per week.  

3. Implement a clear plan for employment tribunals 

First, this should include no reintroduction of Employment Tribunal fees. They are unfair, and ineffective in creating the thriving, healthy workforce that the UK needs. 

Second, there must be more resourcing to clear the backlog of cases, which stood at 32,000 at the end of 2023. Too many cases are taking more than a year to reach a hearing because of cuts to this essential service.  

We would also like to see the return of judicial lay members to decision making. They ensure the realities of the workplace are considered as well as the nuances of employment law. They also build contribute to the diversity and inclusiveness of the tribunal system. 

4. Ban pay secrecy clauses 

So people have confidence to raise issues like pay at work. Transparency is a critical step towards closing gender and ethnicity pay gaps. 

5. Put mental health on a par with physical health at work 

To tackle the issues around mental health, it is vital that employers are compelled to value mental health in the same way as they are with physical health and safety. 

6. Investing in the Health and Safety Executive  

The HSE has been chronically underfunded in recent years. This is to the detriment of the expert staff at the organisation along with the UK’s wider workforce, with inspectors lacking capacity to properly ensure the health and safety of workplaces. 

7. Implement the Public Accounts Committee recommendations in the report on AEA Technology Pensions

This should include making sure that no workers are left in the same position again.

Equality, diversity and inclusion 

As well as the above policies, it is in the best interest of all workers if the government prioritises equality, diversity and inclusion. We would also like the government to commit to:

1. Flexible working from day one 

We know that good flexible working policies benefit women, disabled people and those with caring responsibilities the most.  

2. Tackling the gender pension gap 

Prospect has led the research and campaigning on the gender pension gap – which is more than double the gender pay gap – for a number of years. Having successfully campaigned for the government to publish an official estimate of the gap, we are now calling for action to close it, including recognising caring responsibilities in the pension system.  

3. Implement the recommendations of the TUC’s Anti-Racism Taskforce 

In 2027, the Taskforce (which includes Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy) will produce recommendations on a number of areas, including tackling structural racism in UK workplaces. The recommendations of the Taskforce, when they are published, must be implemented in full.  

*Note: This page reflects current Prospect thinking. Prospect National Conference takes place in early June. Relevant new policy agreed at Conference will be reflected here shortly afterwards.

Vote 24: Prospect’s manifesto to make work better

Working with our members, we have developed an agenda to make work better in Prospect sectors and right across the economy.
Learn more

Further reading

Prospect has long been campaigning on these issues with our members. Here’s some of our recent comment and analysis: