The CIPD has published its Manifesto for Good Work to influence policy-maker thinking in the run up to the next UK General Election. Its central message is for the next government to develop a long-term workforce strategy to underpin a broader, bolder vision for economic growth.  

The manifesto draws on the CIPD’s recent research and public discussion papers on different areas of policy, and was also informed by a number of focus group discussions with members in different parts of the UK over the summer. 

It outlines the public policy changes needed to help address the UK’s multiple challenges, for all the main UK political parties. These challenges include stagnating productivity, rising skills shortages and our ageing working population. 

The next UK Government will need to take action to reverse the continued decline in employer investment in skills and in the number of apprenticeships going to young people. It will also need to take action to stem the number of people falling out of employment because of poor health and to improve the enforcement of employment rights, particularly for more vulnerable and insecure workers.  

Long-term workforce plan needed for UK plc 

The manifesto argues that a joined-up workforce strategy, underpinned by three core themes - Skilled Work, Healthy Work and Fair Work – is needed to tackle these issues, while supporting the country’s transition to net zero. 

It calls for a package of public policy reforms to support this new workforce strategy across a range of linked policy areas including: skills, innovation, business support, digital adoption, immigration and labour market enforcement. 

Skilled Work 

Under Skilled Work, the manifesto calls for a revitalised approach to industrial strategy with a broader focus on improving job quality, innovation and productivity across all sectors of the economy. It argues this would need to be underpinned by a long-term vision and plan for the UK’s skills system. This is needed to deliver the range of technical and transferable skills employers need, and boost investment and capability in workforce planning and development.  

The manifesto also identifies specific changes to skills policy required to help employers boost their investment in skills such as reform of the Apprenticeship Levy into a more flexible skills levy. It highlights the need for a high-quality, locally delivered business support service for SMEs to boost investment in skills development and people management capability, and support digital adoption and green transition. 

Healthy Work 

Under the theme of Healthy Work, the manifesto urges the next UK Government to improve the protection of workers’ health and rights through the creation of a well-resourced single enforcement body (SEB). This should have a stronger focus on improving employer compliance with the law and raising overall employment standards. 

It also calls for reform of Statutory Sick Pay, through making it payable from day one of absence, raising the rate to the equivalent of the National Living Wage and making it more flexible to support phased returns to work. To complement this, the manifesto highlights the need for the development of accessible occupational health service provision for SMEs, building on evidence of what works from existing pilots. 

Fair Work 

Under Fair Work, the CIPD’s manifesto emphasises the need for action to prevent discrimination and responsibly enforce workers’ rights under the Equality Act 2010, within the remit of a properly resource SEB.  

It also calls for an increase in statutory paternity leaveto six weeks at or near the full rate of pay, to help deliver more balance and choice for working parents over how to manage caring responsibilities. The manifesto also recommends that the next government review and reform Shared Parental Leave (SPL) to boost uptake by enhancing the statutory provision and simplifying the process for both working parents and employers. 

Another change it advocates is to improve pay and reward transparency by requiring employers to include basic pay and pension information in job adverts, and help reduce pay and pension gaps. 

The CIPD’s public affairs team will be promoting our Manifesto for Good Work and its key policy recommendations among all the main political parties in the run up to the next UK General Election.   

About the author

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy

Ben leads the CIPD’s Public Policy team, which works to inform and shape debate, government policy and legislation in order to enable higher performance at work and better pathways into work for those seeking employment. His particular research and policy areas of interest include employment relations, employee engagement and wellbeing, absence and stress management, and leadership and management capability.

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