May Appoints Former Blair Adviser to Review U.K. Work Practices

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a former adviser to Tony Blair to lead a review of the U.K.’s employment practices as she seeks to secure the center ground in British politics.

Matthew Taylor, a head of policy at the Labour Party when Blair was prime minister, will study how employment practices need to change to keep pace with modern business models, the ruling Conservative Party said Saturday in a statement. The review will look at issues including job security, pay and workers rights, the party said.

May Appoints Former Blair Adviser to Review U.K. Work Practices

Matthew Taylor

Source: RSA

“We are building a new center ground in British politics,” May, who assumed leadership after the U.K.’s vote for Brexit, said in the statement. “Improving the security and rights of ordinary working people is a key part of building a country and an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

Workers’ rights have become a key theme in British politics with employers such as Sports Direct International Plc criticized by lawmakers and investors over allegations of improper labor practices. The government said in the statement that 6 million people aren’t covered by standard U.K. workplace rights, and that changing business practices continue to stretch the limit of employment rules.

Labour Shift

May’s announcement comes as the opposition Labour Party is moving away from the center and the far-left policies of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, alienate some of his own members in Parliament. Corbyn in July said that he would force all U.K. companies with more than 250 staff to negotiate with a recognized union on their workers’ pay, and that recent British corporate scandals demonstrate a “race to the bottom” in employment conditions.

“New forms of employment have many advantages for workers and consumers but there are challenges and risks,” Taylor, who is Royal Society of the Arts chief executive officer, said in the statement. “That the prime minister has chosen to prioritize the interests of the growing army of people working in new ways sends an important message.”

The review, announced ahead of the Conservative Party’s annual conference this weekend in Birmingham, also will examine workers’ representation, advancement and training along with opportunities for underrepresented groups in the labor market.

Taylor called it “a daunting brief” on Twitter Saturday.