Second Warwick deal with unions sets Labour’s 2010 agenda

A senior business figure has hit out at employment policies that emerged from the Labour Party’s work towards a manifesto for the next general election.

Ministers met union figures and Labour Party activists at a National Policy Forum in Warwick to hammer out a plan for a possible fourth term.

Personnel Today has learned that the secret document emerging from those talks included pledges to: extend the right to parental leave make employees eligible for redundancy payouts sooner and drop the qualifying age for the National Minimum Wage from 22 to 21.

Kieran O’Keeffe, senior policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, slammed the plans to increase the number of parents with a legal right to take time off to deal with non-medical emergencies. The qualifying age of the children would be extended from five to 16 under the plans.

“It seems that the unions are intent on legalising every element of life at work, which leads many of our members to believe that they are deeply out of touch,” said O’Keeffe.

He added that removing firms’ ability to restructure quickly without onerous redundancy payments had saved many from going under. On the minimum wage, he insisted that the lower rate provided an important incentive for firms to take on less experienced staff.

The measures agreed by the National Policy Forum will be voted on at the Labour Party Conference in September. A general election must be called by June 2010.

The NPF agreement: how Labour’s next term might look

  • The right to unpaid parental leave extended to parents of children up to 16
  • Employees entitled to redundancy leave after less time in post
  • National Minimum Wage from workers’ 21st birthdays
  • Increased GP opening hours
  • One million jobs in environmental sector

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