I spent the whole Easter recess in Ilford. I had several constituency engagements and two lengthy advice surgeries.
Parliament returned on Monday. Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget highlights the clear choice between Labour spending in line with the G20 agenda to combat the global recession and Conservative calls to slash public investment.
These are difficult times. The most privileged and wealthiest should pay more. I welcome measures to combat tax avoidance and evasion. Government should act to protect the most vulnerable and poorest.
When Labour introduced the first National Minimum Wage ten years ago it was opposed by David Cameron and the Conservatives. They also opposed paternity leave, flexible working and the European Social Chapter.
I’m pleased that three new key rights which I voted for in the Employment Bill have just come into effect. Statutory holiday entitlement has increased by 4 days to 28 days for full-time workers and pro rata for part-timers. This will benefit 6 million people.
If you have a child aged 16 or under, are an employee, and have worked for your employer for 26 weeks continuously before applying, you have the statutory right to ask for flexible working. Your employer must seriously consider any application you make, and only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so. An extra 4.5 million people benefit across the country.
As part of Labour’s crackdown on those who try to exploit workers, tough new penalties for employers who underpay their staff have been made law. There will now be unlimited fines for the most serious cases rather than the previous maximum limit of £5,000. It will also mean a fairer way of dealing with national minimum wage arrears, calculated so workers do not lose out. If you think a rogue employer is not paying up then get in touch with me at 020 7219 6485 or call the national minimum wage helpline on 0845 6000 678.
posted 7 May 2009