©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

Shadow minister insists Keir Starmer’s Labour is ‘pro-worker and pro-business’

Labour is “pro-worker and pro-business”, a shadow minister has insisted following reports Keir Starmer’s party has watered down its commitment to strengthen the rights of gig economy employees.

Stephen Morgan, the shadow minister for schools, was responding to reports that Labour has scaled back its commitments to bolster workers’ rights in an attempt to court corporate backers.

Questioned by Sky News over the matter, Mr Morgan insisted he could not comment, but added: “Labour set out its five national missions. That has been approved by our national policy forum in July.

“Obviously we will set out more detail in our manifesto, but the Labour party can be pro-worker and pro-business.

“We have got a really good relationship with business now, we can be trusted to run our economy and to run our country, and we have got a set of policies which are pro-worker too.”

The Financial Times reported last night that a pledge to boost the protection of gig economy workers was diluted by the party’s leadership at Labour’s national policy forum in Nottingham last month.

The text agreed last month will be published in the run-up to Labour’s annual conference in October and will form a menu from which it picks its manifesto pledges.

The FT reported the passages showed that Labour has diluted its 2021 pledge to create a single status of “worker” for all but the genuinely self-employed, regardless of sector, wage or contract type.

Instead of introducing the policy immediately, therefore, Labour has agreed it would consult on the proposal in government, considering how “a simpler framework” that differentiates between workers and the genuinely self-employed “could properly capture the breadth of employment relationships in the UK” and ensure workers can still “benefit from flexible working where they choose to do so”.

Labour also clarified that its previously announced plans to introduce “basic individual rights from day one for all workers”, including sick pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal, will “not prevent … probationary periods with fair and transparent rules and processes”.