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Marks & Spencer Chairman cautions against Labour's employment reforms

Chloe Burney
15 April 2024

Marks & Spencer Chairman Archie Norman has raised alarm bells over Labour’s plans to overhaul worker rights. If the party is voted into power, Norman argues that the UK may risk failing to attract investment.

The country’s biggest problem going into a general election is a "lack of growth in productivity and investment", Norman told The Telegraph.

He said: "Any incoming government should consider carefully whether a package that reduces flexibility, makes it more costly to hire people, and seeks to bring unions back into the workplace will help attract new investment."

With Labour predicted to win a landslide victory, the political party promised to secure a "new deal for working people", which would include getting rid of qualifying periods for full employment rights, ending zero-hour contracts, and giving staff the right to claim unfair dismissal after day one of a job.

Norman argued that the UK has "some of the best employers, terms and practices in the world".

He added: "Of course there are exceptions but in a knowledge-based economy most businesses are very focused on building motivated engaged workforces."

According to a Labour insider, the party is boosting its charm offensive with business leaders as it had "not done a great job of being super clear" with businesses on its workers rights reforms.

The source added: "This is a core part of our economic offer, it’s not something we want to hide in a cupboard.

"Investors are still ringing us every week, those looking at an IPO want to know what we think. The idea that Labour could damage investment is just for the birds."

M&S joins Alex Baldock, CEO of Currys, warning of Labour's workers rights overhaul. Last week, Baldock said: "The more restrictions that you put in place, the less flexibility you allow in businesses’ relationships with their colleagues, the less likely businesses are to hire and the less likely they are to invest."

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