Work plays a fundamental role in our success and prosperity as individuals, in our organisations, and collectively as a society. The CIPD’s Manifesto for Work sets out proposals to improve corporate governance, the quality of people management, and investment in and better use of skills, and will form the basis of the work we do to inform and influence the government’s agenda on issues relating to work and the workplace, ensuring a future of work that benefits people, businesses, the economy and society.

As the experts on people, work and change, the HR profession will play a significant role in the continuing debate, but championing good work will involve all of us to make a commitment to encourage accountability, good principles and behaviours, as well as sustainable practice in the workplace.

CIPD Policy manifesto

We live in the most uncertain and fast-changing political, economic and social context anyone can remember. Many of the challenges facing the next government in the UK go far beyond the central focus of Brexit negotiations and can be traced back to the failure of the UK economy, despite its many success stories, to truly deliver value across all sectors of society.

We face the challenges of improving productivity and international competitiveness, of investing in and building the skills we need now and for the future, of driving more innovation, and encouraging more agile and responsive businesses that look to the long term and not just maximising the short term.

We need to make much more progress on creating inclusive workplaces and providing opportunities for progression, in a fairer distribution of reward, and in creating working environments that engage our people and support rather than undermine their well-being. And we need to rebuild trust in our leaders, in big business and in our establishment institutions.

At the CIPD, our purpose is to champion better work and working lives — for the benefit of individuals, organisations, economies and society as a whole. We believe work can and should be a force for good that helps society to flourish and prosper. As the professional body for experts in people and work, we have an important role to play in helping our members address these challenges at an organisational level, but we’re calling on the next government to play its part too.

Government plays a critical role in setting the policy and legal frameworks to manage and regulate many different dimensions of work, the workforce and the workplace, efficiently and fairly. But not everything can or should be regulated or sought to be controlled through rules. Government must also play a major role in influencing mindsets and behaviours based on key principles of ethical and sustainable business and employment practice, and in convening and encouraging dialogue, consultation and debate on how we can all influence the future.

We need the next government to play an active role in promoting and supporting the development of ‘good work’ across the economy – for example, by supporting the development and dissemination of advice and guidance for employers on the HR and people management practices that underpin good work, and responsible and ethical employment practices regardless of where or how people work.

Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the next two years will be characterised by much uncertainty for our work and home lives. And since work is fundamental to so much of our lives, whether we work in paid employment ourselves or not, we believe that a key focus of this general election and for the next government should be on addressing workplace issues through a much more human lens than ever before. Brexit poses many challenges, not least relating to skills and immigration, but it also creates opportunities. Capitalising on the creativity and potential of our people, or ‘human capital’, can position the UK as the global leader in high-value, high-skills economies, and as a great place to work and do business.

The UK faces a time of huge transition and transformation. We believe we must work towards putting people much more at the heart of business thinking and practice. It is people who drive creativity and innovation, productivity, customer service and all the elements of successful and sustainable enterprise of any kind. We need to invest in them, engage them, and lead from the principles that good work is purposeful, good work is safe, inclusive and good for our well-being, and that good work exists for the long-term benefit of individuals, organisations and society. That work can, and should, be a force for good, for all.

We are calling for the next government to: 

  • Overhaul the UK’s system of corporate governance by setting out the key principles of responsibly and ethically run organisations in an updated UK Corporate Governance Code, and encouraging more transparency over how organisations live up to these principles and how they invest in and develop their workforces for the long term. The limited remit of remuneration committees should be extended to create wider human capital sub-committees overseeing how organisations develop their people, build positive cultures, reward fairly and provide meaningful employee voice.
  • Help create a more a more accessible labour market and more inclusive workplaces by supporting employer efforts to increase the range and uptake of flexible working practices available to people, and by encouraging more organisations to measure and publish more data on the make-up of their workforce as a means to stimulate action to improve access to work and progression among disadvantaged groups.
  • Support investment in skills, lifelong learning and improvements in employee wellbeing and engagement by reforming the apprenticeship levy as a broader training levy, and encouraging the development of much greater support for and focus on lifelong learning. We would also strongly encourage a much greater focus on increasing the quality of people management capability and identifying the demands for future skills across the economy in a forward-thinking industrial strategy to help redress the growing mismatches in skills, improve job quality and boost productivity.
  • Ensure the development of modern working practices doesn’t undermine individuals’ employment rights or security by protecting and raising awareness of existing employment rights, clarifying employment status between employees, workers and the self-employed, alongside a review of associated taxation and benefits regimes, and taking action against employers that fail to meet their obligations under employment law.

Our manifesto sets out four key areas we need government to work collectively with businesses and organisations to take action on.

Governance, risk and reward

Rebuild trust between all stakeholders through better governance and take focus beyond the pursuit of short-term profit.

  • Increase transparency and fairness
  • Tackle executive pay excesses
  • Reform the role of the Low Pay Commission to look at the underlying causes and solutions of low pay
  • Support employee financial well-being


Promote inclusive practice that allows better access to work and progression.

  • Enhance support for carers
  • Boost uptake of flexible working
  • Improve the evidence base around hiring and promotion decisions
  • Campaign for and take action to educate, bust myths and stereotyping

Modern working practices

Understand that good work is not only about the type of contracts but linked to rights and conditions.

  • Maintain and protect existing employment rights
  • Clarify employment status of atypical workers
  • Raise awareness of employment rights

Skills and lifelong learning

Support investment in skills for all, particularly future-relevant skills and lifelong learning.

  • Raise leadership, management and HR capability to boost demand
  • Reform the apprenticeship levy towards a more flexible training levy
  • Increase participation in training
  • Improve careers advice and guidance

Our full policy manifesto can be downloaded here:

Matthew Taylor

At a time of rapid change in the world, I believe we need a national commitment to ensuring all work is good work. The CIPD’s mission to champion better work and working lives should be strongly welcomed — as should their drive to put the world of work front and centre in the election campaign.

Matthew Taylor

Chief Executive, the RSA

Sean Taggart

The CIPD’s Manifesto for Work is a call to action that every good employer should actively support and engage with. Organisational success starts and finishes with great people management and so the CIPD’s call for a joined up strategy to improve the quality of people management throughout the UK is exactly what this country needs.

Sean Taggart

Owner and chairman, Albatross Group, non-executive director at Investors in People

Fleur Bothwick

It has never been more important for talent teams to be focussed on future proofing their workplaces by empowering their people to embrace both formal and informal flexibility.

Fleur Bothwick

OBE, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Leadership, EMEIA, EY

Chief Executive Peter Cheese launches the CIPD’s Manifesto for Work. Watch the video below.

Play Video
Manifesto for work interview with Peter Cheese

Chief Executive Peter Cheese launches the CIPD’s Manifesto for Work 2017, underlining the fundamental importance of good work and the commitment that the next and future governments need to make to ensure our success and prosperity as individuals, in our organisations, and collectively as a society.