Launching her party’s campaign for the forthcoming general election, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson focused on Brexit, arguing that her policy of revoking the Article 50 process would deliver a £50 billion "remain bonus" for public services over the next five years.

This calculation is based on the economy being 1.9% larger in 2024–25 if the UK stays in the European Union.

Faced with those arguing that the chances of her being in a position to deliver that pledge were somewhat fanciful, Ms Swinson said “I never thought that I would stand here and say that I'm a candidate to be Prime Minister, but when I look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, I am absolutely certain I could do a better job than either of them”.

A message to employers

Looking in more detail at policies (other than Brexit) which the Lib Dems are promoting, they argue that there are still too many examples of unscrupulous employers who perpetuate bad practice, which not only exploits workers but can also undermine the competitive position of good employers.

“This has to change if we are to give everyone a decent chance of earning a living and move towards a more productive economy,” their website states.

One way they would tackle this problem is to encourage the creation and widespread adoption of a “good employer” kitemark covering areas such as paying a living wage, avoiding unpaid internships and using name-blind recruitment to make it easier for customers and investors to exercise choice and influence.

The Lib Dems also want to establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine Living Wage across all sectors and would extend transparency requirements on larger employers to include publishing the number of people paid less than the Living Wage as well as the ratio between top and median pay.

Other policy proposals of interest to employers include ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts, modernising employment rights to make them fit for the age of the gig economy and strengthening enforcement of employment rights.

Comment by Andy Willis, Head of Legal at Croner

Although Brexit continues to dominate the political agenda, it is clear that workers’ rights aren’t far behind. Many of the Lib Dem’s proposals follow on from recent developments that have aimed to increase transparency around poor working practices.

While conscientious employers will already have measures in place to guard against discrimination and worker exploitation, making initiatives such as name-blind recruitment mandatory may require other organisations to change their business practices considerably.

Therefore, regardless of the outcome of December’s elections, employers should expect legislation to continue to place additional requirements on them in the name of workers’ rights.

Last reviewed 6 November 2019