The general election and workers’ rights: what the manifestos say 

Mike Clancy · 1 July 2024

Prospect is a proudly politically independent trade union but we are politically active. We campaign with and on behalf of our members to make their working lives better, lobbying politicians across the UK. 

While it is not our role to tell people who to vote for, we do encourage our members to vote and to think of the key issues that affect their working lives when they do cast their vote. 

One of the most important issues on the ballot paper at this election is workers’ rights, so we have summarised the parties’ pledges in this area below. 


The headline commitment on workers’ rights in the Conversative manifesto is a re-commitment to their Minimum Service Levels legislation, which allows employers in some industries to require enough people to work during strikes to maintain a certain minimum level of service. These laws were passed in the current Parliament but are yet to be used. 

The Conservatives also say they want businesses to be free to innovate with ‘proportionate’ protections for workers, while they have also said they will apply the 2016 Trade Union Act (which includes limits on union campaigning and strike action) to Wales. 

The Conservatives say they will maintain the National Living Wage at two-thirds of median earnings. 


Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay (also known as their New Deal for Working People) has received a lot of media coverage in recent months. In its manifesto, Labour says it will be implemented quickly, with the introduction to of legislation in the first 100 days of a new government.

The plan promises to ban zero-hours contracts and end fire and rehire, as well as extend health and safety and blacklisting protections to self-employed workers.

Labour also talks about strengthening the collective voice of workers through their trade unions, including by giving unions better access to workplaces and by introducing a new duty on employers to inform employees of their right to join a union. 

On pay, Labour says they will ensure the minimum wage is a genuine living wage, ensure the Low Pay Commission accounts for the cost of living, and that they will remove age bands so that all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage regardless of their age.

Other parties

The other parties standing go into varying degrees of detail on workers rights. Here is a summary of what they say: 

  • ALBA do not have any policies on workers’ rights in their manifesto. 
  • Alliance say they will create a Green New Deal that will help unlock good green jobs in emerging industries.
  • DUP say that new rights introduced in the last Parliament in Britain (such as leave for employees with caring responsibilities and protections for workers who receive tips) should be extended to workers in Northern Ireland. 
  • The Green Party of England and Wales have pledged to repeal anti-union legislation and will introduce a Charter of Workers’ Rights. They will increase the national minimum wage to £15 an hour and are committed to equal employment rights from day one of employment.
  • The Liberal Democrats say they will develop an industrial strategy that will help businesses create good jobs and tackle the climate crisis. They will establish an independent review into to recommend a genuine living wage. 
  • Plaid Cymru say they support the devolution of employment law to Wales, that they would reverse minimum service levels legislation and that they would support moves such as those set out in Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay. 
  • Reform UK don’t have anything to say on workers’ rights but on pay they say they will increase the personal tax-free allowance to £20,000 a year. 
  • Scottish Greens say they would implement a ‘real new deal for workers’ which would repeal anti-trade union laws and support greater collective bargaining. They promise to raise the minimum wage and peg it to inflation. They also say they would begin the transition to a four-day working week. 
  • The SDLP supports an end to zero-hour contracts, they also say they will fight for a fair deal for public sector workers. 
  • Sinn Féin say they are committed to strong legal protections for workers and the right to join a trade union. 
  • The SNP will repeal the Minimum Service Levels Act and will ban zero hours contracts and ‘fire and rehire’. They also say they will take action to close the gender pay gap. 
  • UUP say they will create a Northern Ireland Jobs Skills Fund, which will include representatives from trade unions.
  • The Workers Party of Britain say they want to explore introducing ‘worker control’ and allow workers and managers to the first right of acquisition of companies and their assets.

Mike Clancy is general secretary of Prospect

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