May: ‘Toys R Us’ rights – for wealthier workers
The Times was being economical with the truth when Oliver Wright, its Policy Editor, exultantly proclaimed last week: “May gives all workers new rights to time off – manifesto targets family illness and mental health”.
The Telegraph more honestly adds that those who can afford to live when losing a year’s pay are offered a ‘new statutory right’: ‘their jobs are guaranteed while they are caring for their loved ones – although they will not be paid’. Only child bereavement leave will be covered – by two week’s pay. (Left, Eric Johansson advises).
Those who have substantial means will be able to request time off work for training.
As Damian Green the work and pensions secretary said, the carer’s allowance of £62.70 a week is not designed to be lived on.
The burden of funding a series of beneficial measures proposed by government has been placed b on the shoulders of employers – again small and medium businesses will suffer.
Craig Beaumont, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said to a Telegraph journalist: “The proposal for a year’s unpaid leave is not cost-free. “A small business with just two or three employees who are highly-skilled in manufacturing or design will struggle to recruit a temporary employee and then provide intensive training, while any temporary replacement could be hard to source and carry additional costs for the smallest employers. We must eliminate the risk of discrimination in recruitment; no one should be asked in interviews if they have elderly relatives or others needing care.”
Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, added that industry would view the manifesto pledges with caution: “While there is little appetite in the business communities I represent for a roll-back of employment rights as the UK leaves the EU, businesses worry about the prospect of costly or bureaucratic new obligations, no matter how well intentioned”.
A right in name only, for the 99%
Though these moves are described as forming part of a series of manifesto pledges aimed at rebranding the Tories as the party for workers, as Stephen Bush says “the right to unpaid leave to care for the elderly will, for most people, be a right in name only. He adds:
“Putting tanks on Labour’s lawn? Maybe, but the kind you buy from Toys R Us not BAE Systems” .