Following publication of party manifestos in the run up to the 2015 General Election, ifs ProShare, the voice of employee share ownership in the UK, suggested that their lack of references to employee share ownership is a missed opportunity to highlight a very successful concept that benefits millions of British workers and thousands of businesses every year.
The Conservative Party and UKIP manifestos make no mention of employee share ownership and the Labour Party simply provide an assurance that they will, “…safeguard the public interest in the Royal Mail, supporting the creation of a staff-led trust for the employee share, and keeping the remaining 30 per cent in public ownership.” The Liberal Democrat manifesto states that they will encourage employers to promote employee participation and employee ownership and there is a specific aim to “…increase further the proportion of GDP in employee-owned businesses.” Later adding, they would also “Strengthen worker participation in decision-making, including staff representation on remuneration committees, and the right for employees who collectively own 5 percent of a company to be represented on the board.”
Whilst the Green Party make no specific reference to employee share ownership they do replicate Liberal Democrat policies by undertaking to give workers a greater say in the running of their companies, including employee-elected directors in medium and larger companies.Likewise the Greens commit to amending company law to ensure that medium and large companies have employee representatives on their boards.Phil Hall, Special Adviser to ifs ProShare concluded, “Obviously the 10,000 plus companies offering an employee share plan and the 2.5 million employees who are participating in these schemes would probably have liked to have seen clearer commitments to employee share ownership in the various party manifestos.
What’s more, given all mainstream political parties have previously accepted the benefits of employee share ownership – to individuals, employers and the economy as a whole – ifs ProShare would have liked a commitment to extending the benefits of employee share ownership to more companies and many more employees. That said, omission from a manifesto is very different from being omitted from parties plans. We have had constructive conversations with representatives from all the main political parties over the last few months and are confident that whoever wins this election will remain committed to employee share ownership in the future.”