Detailed Summary of Labour’s New Deal for Working People 

Download a PDF of our briefing on the key issues in the New Deal for working people, or scroll down to read more.


The pandemic has bought into sharp focus the imbalance of power in the workplace that trade unions and the Labour Party have long sought to rectify. Wages have stagnated for over a decade, and work is becoming increasingly insecure. 

Since the Tories came to power in 2010, in-work poverty, low pay, and financial insecurity have become rampant. Incomes have stagnated and many workers have experienced real terms pay decline. In-work poverty has hit new highs, with one in six working households in poverty. Wages have suffered a decade of stagnation – the worst in over a century. 

Throughout the pandemic, workers in insecure roles without proper rights and protections have kept the country on its feet. They worked on the front line, caring for society’s most vulnerable, keeping essential services running and keeping food on shop shelves. 

The Living Wage Foundation estimates that over a million key workers are in insecure work, lacking basic rights and protections, with one in nine in insecure work across the economy as a whole.  

Labour’s New Deal for Working People, launched by Angela Rayner at Conference 2021 and drawn up in partnership with Labour’s affiliated unions, is a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of working people by strengthening individual and collective rights.  

Keir Starmer has promised that a Labour Government will write this plan into law within 100 days of taking office.  

Under Labour, work will be more secure and better-paid, and unions and individuals will have stronger rights to redress the power imbalance in the workplace. 

Working people need better rights, stronger unions and a Labour Government to win the new deal at work they deserve. 

Key issues:  

  • Labour will strengthen rights at work for all workers, from day one on the job, and ensure all workers are be entitled to basic rights and protections like sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave, flexible working and protection against unfair dismissal. They’ll remove the qualifying period for basic rights at work – so everyone is protected from their first day on the job. They will strengthen workplace rights and protections for those who are self-employed.


The UK allocates rights to workers by organising them into three different categories, ‘worker’, ‘employee’, and ‘self-employed’, each with a separate legal definition and set of accompanying rights. The boundaries between the different categories are complex and defined in case law, making it very difficult for individual workers to know their true legal status. Workers often do not know their legal rights and any rights are harder to enforce. 

Certain employers can actively exploit the complexity by falsely putting workers in a category with fewer rights. Many people work like regular employees – in uniform, full time, with work set entirely by management – but are falsely classified as self-employed workers doing freelance work for that company. As well as denying people their legal rights, this also undercuts all the good employers in the sector that chose to ensure their employees have the rights they are entitled to. 

Labour will also act to strengthen protections for the self-employed. Many self-employed workers suffer from the same problems of insecurity, uncertainty, and a lack of basic rights. 

The current arbitrary qualification period leaves workers waiting up to two years to access some basic rights, including protection against some types of unfair dismissal. That is why Labour will end the qualification period, so that rights start on the first day on the job. 


  • Labour will end fire and rehire so workers can be safe in the knowledge that terms and conditions negotiated in good faith can’t be ripped up under threat of dismissal.


Fire and rehire is when an employee is made redundant, then re-engaged on worse terms and conditions. The threat of fire and rehire is often enough for employers to bully employees into “voluntarily” agreeing to lower pay and reduced terms and conditions. The use of fire and rehire is not a new phenomenon. However, it has gained prominence and become more widespread during the pandemic, in both the public and private sector. A TUC poll estimated that 1 in 10 workers – almost 3 million people – have been subjected to fire and rehire tactics since March 2020. Young workers, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic workers, and those on low pay have been disproportionately impacted. 


  • Labour will make work more family-friendly, and make it easier to balance work with home, community and family life. Labour is committed to achieving a better work-life balance for all workers. They’ll review and improve maternity and paternity leave and the shared parental leave system and they’ll guarantee paid family and carers’ leave. Labour will make flexible working – including remote and hybrid working as well as flexi-hours, term­ time hours and family friendly hours – a day one right for all workers by default. They’ll also bring in a new ‘right to switch off’ outside of working hours.



Work-life balance is a right. The UK has some of the longest working hours in Europe, with a long-hours culture that contributes to poor physical and mental health, an increased risk of accidents at work, and decreased productivity.  

The obstacles to a good work-life balance are not the same for everyone. For some, work comes to dominate their lives through long working hours or an expectation to work outside of their paid working hours. For others, it is a lack of certainty and control over when and how much they will work – and what they will earn – which prevents them from being able to plan their life and choose how to spend their time. For a good work-life balance, both must be addressed. 


  • Labour will ban zero-hours contracts and ensure everyone has the right to regular hours they can rely on. All workers will have the right to a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work, reasonable notice of any changes in shifts and fair compensation for cancelled and curtailed shifts.


For many, work is increasingly insecure, precarious and unpredictable. They have little idea when they will be working and how much they will be earning a few weeks ahead, creating stress and leaving them without the financial security to plan for themselves or their family. 

Flexibility is too often ‘one-sided’ with workers expected to be completely flexible to the demands of their employer, working when and where they are asked to, with no certainty on how this will change day by day or week by week.


  • Labour will strengthen trade union rights, raising pay and conditions. We know that unionised workplaces are more likely to provide decent pay, good training, and benefits, such as holiday and sick pay, above the statutory minimum. That’s why Labour will repeal the Trade Union Act and the new anti-strike laws, and why they’ll also update trade union legislation, to make it fit for the modern realities of work and remove unnecessary restrictions on trade union activity. They’ll introduce new rights to help unions recruit, organise and win a better deal for their members. This includes simplifying the process of union recognition, establishing a reasonable right of entry to organise in workplaces, new and strengthened protections for trade union reps and officials, including safeguards against blacklisting, and new rights for union Equality Reps.


Unionised workplaces are more likely to provide decent pay, good training, and benefits, such as holiday and sick pay, above the statutory minimum. Trade unions have reaffirmed their value throughout the pandemic, from winning the furlough scheme to agreeing on safe working conditions with employers. They have also kept the country going with agreements and campaigns in key sectors. 

The imbalance of power between individual workers and employers means that it is essential that workers can band together to improve their bargaining power. The right of unions to operate effectively in the workplace, in each sector of the economy, is vital for achieving fairness, dignity and democracy at work for all. 

Unions have been subjected to increasingly restrictive rules, most recently in the Trade Union Act 2016. Even before the Trade Union Act came into force, the UK already had one of the most regulated systems of industrial action in the world, with unions having to comply with complex and often unnecessary legal requirements. 

These restrictions mean workers are denied their fair share of the wealth they create, whilst a lack of collective representation has led to a race to the bottom that damages the economy and hampers long-term growth. The principle of solidarity of workers being able to support each other is an important democratic freedom and is vital to a healthy economy and society.   


  • Labour will reverse the decades-long decline in collective bargaining, using Fair Pay Agreements to drive up pay and conditions. Labour believes strong collective bargaining rights and institutions are key to tackling problems of insecurity, inequality, discrimination, enforcement and low pay. Labour will begin in adult social care, introducing a new Fair Pay Agreement that is negotiated through sectoral collective bargaining, to empower workers, the trade unions that represent them, and their employers to agree fair pay and conditions for all care workers. Labour will also assess how Fair Pay Agreements could benefit other sectors of the economy, and are committed to strengthening the rights of working people by empowering workers to organise collectively through trade unions.


When acting alone, workers are often denied their fair share – but when backed by the collective power of their colleagues and trade unions, they can better secure their share of the wealth they helped to create. The labour movement’s historic achievements have come through giving people power and a voice at work by means of collective action and collective representation. 

Collective bargaining is still the defining feature of industrial relations in some of the most successful economies in Europe, with many having collective bargaining agreements covering well over three quarters of their workforce. Evidence from other countries shows collective bargaining drives up pay and living standards whilst reducing inequality. It ensures workers share in economic growth and allows workplaces and sectors to adapt better to new technologies and trends.  

Labour believes strong collective bargaining rights and institutions at all levels are key to tackling the problems of insecurity, inequality, discrimination, enforcement, low pay, and other issues identified in the Green Paper. 

Fair Pay Agreements will be negotiated through sectoral collective bargaining, reversing the decades-long decline in collective bargaining coverage. Worker representatives and employer representatives would be brought together to negotiate Fair Pay Agreements that establish minimum terms and conditions, which would be binding on all employers and workers in the sector. 

Go back to the New Deal campaign page