ANGELA Rayner has rubbished claims Labour has watered down its plans for workers’ rights after a report it had done so to avoid appearing anti–business.

The UK deputy leader, who has boasted of her party’s commitment to workers on her visit to Scotland this week, said Labour was “far from watering it down”.

It followed the Financial Times reporting that Labour had changed course as part of efforts to woo business and deflect Tory attack lines ahead of the general election.

The paper said a pledge to project workers in the gig economy had been diluted at Labour’s national policy forum last month.

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The party also intended to let companies keep the power to dismiss staff during trail periods.

A 2021 Labour pledge to create a single status of “worker” for all but the self-employed, including gig economy workers, has been replaced by a consultation.

The FT said trade unions including Unite had given the plans a “thumbs down” after seeing the draft text agreed by the policy forum.

In a lengthy post on Twitter, now known as X, Ms Rayner said: “Labour’s New Deal for Working People will be the biggest levelling-up of workers’ rights in decades – providing security, treating workers fairly, and paying a decent wage.”

She said this would include banning zero hours contracts, making flexible working a day one right, and reviewing parental leave rights.

“I’m proud that we developed our comprehensive New Deal together with Labour’s affiliated unions. Far from watering it down, we will now set out in detail how we will implement it and tackle the Tories’ scaremongering.”

Ms Rayner also denied there had been a dilution of the plans in an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, but admitted they were being roadtested with stakeholders and could be changed if it emerged they would have negative unintended consequences.

Speaking to comedian Matt Forde for his Political Party podcast at Underbelly Bristo Square, she said: "A lot of people don't know all the things in my New Deal for working people. Clearly the FT didn’t when they wrote that front page today.

“They said we were watering down our New Deal for working people. It’s just not true.

“The position we’re in right now as the shadow cabinet is the implementation planning stage so that if we do get into government we can hit the ground running from day one.

“For example, the single status of worker, there has to be a lot of work done into that.

"So we say we’ll ban zero hour contracts, what does that mean? Will everyone have a six hour contract, will everyone have a 16 hour contract?

"It’s about going through the detail, working with unions, working with business, working with other organisations around the practicalities of what we can deliver from day one.

"It’s not a case of watering anything down.

“It’s so the Labour government, from day one, we can go to the civil service and say we’ve got it. That’s why we’re talking to business, that’s why we’re talking to unions, it’s why we’re engaging with people and all these stories are coming out. 

“We’re really going into the meat and the detail of what those headline policy announcements were. And sometimes you have to adapt them because sometimes what you want has unintended consequences. Better to find out now.

SNP MP Patricia Gibson tweeted: “Apart from chasing Tory votes in traditional Tory seats in England, & daring the red wall voters to vote for anyone else, exactly what is the Labour Party for? 

“Regardless of how England votes, it is clear it will be business as usual under Sir Keir Starmer.”

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Her colleague Stephen Morgan, a shadow education minister, said Labour would be both “pro-worker and pro-business” if elected when asked about the claims.

He said the party would set out its full policy plans at its October conference.

Refusing to comment directly on the FT report, he told Sky News: “Obviously we will set out more detail in our manifesto, but the Labour Party can be pro-worker and pro-business.

“We have got a really good relationship with business now, we can be trusted to run our economy and to run our country, and we have got a set of policies which are pro-worker too.”

He added: “I can’t comment on a policy document that has not been published yet. It will be at our party conference in October, and that is when we will see a lot more detail. But our party is committed to improving workers’ rights as well as supporting businesses too.”

The row comes as Labour rows back on a series of previous commitments, including scrapping the two-child benefit cap, green investment and gender reforms.

On a visit to Glasgow with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar this week, Ms Rayner ruled out a Labour government devolving employment law, as Holyrood “wouldn’t need it”.