Labour will 'learn lessons of pandemic' and reform employment rules, conference hears, amid party in-fighting over leadership rules

Labour will “learn the lessons of the pandemic” if they get to Number 10, Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has said, by introducing flexible working and increasing sick pay as part of an overhaul of workers rights.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (PA/Stefan Rousseau)

Opening the annual event in Brighton, Ms Rayner told delegates that Sir Keir Starmer’s party would “go into government with our first Green Paper already prepared” and would get the so-called New Deal for Working People signed off within 100 days of being in office.

The start of the Brighton conference has been marred by party in-fighting, as Sir Keir was forced to ditch a proposed major shake up of the leadership election process following opposition from the party’s left..

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was against that backdrop that Ms Rayner addressed the hall, promising delegates that they would face “the future with workers’ rights fit for the modern world.”

“We will empower people to have a real say over their own working lives,” she said.

“And in this hall, we know that our greatest power comes not when we stand alone but when we stand and work together.

“Throughout our history that is how victories and progress for working people have been achieved.”

Suggesting that the pandemic has “reinforced for a lot of us how precious time off is, and how utterly exhausting the daily grind can be” Ms Rayner said that the flexibility of work from home would be protected in law, and statutory sick pay will be increased “so that everyone can afford to live while they are off sick or self-isolating”.

Behind the scenes, opposition from the unions and Labour’s left to proposals which would have dramatically increased MPs’ influence in the election of a new leader have been a blow to Sir Keir Starmer.

A revised set of plans has now been agreed by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee and will be put to the conference.