Poll shows 76% of public believe large employers should be required to share profits with staff, following proposals championed by the Co-operative Party

A poll commissioned by the Co-operative Party, which originally developed the proposals as part of its 2015 manifesto, asked:

“In France, every company with 50 or more employees is required to share profits with their employees. This means that where businesses make significant profits, employers are required to pay a portion of these profits to all their employees. To what extent would you support or oppose the Government introducing compulsory profit sharing like this in the UK?”

Of the 2015 respondents, 76% said they would be supportive of the idea, with 46% strongly in favour. Just 8% opposed.

The poll comes in advance of a bill being introduced into Parliament by Labour and Co-operative MP Gareth Thomas on Tuesday, which would require companies with over 50 staff to distribute 5% of their profits among employees. If such a provision was introduced, supermarket staff and high street employees could look forward to an extra £1,200 per year, according to calculations by the House of Commons Library.

The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is considering the idea, and it will be part of a review of employment rights being undertaken by the Party. In a speech at a co-operative conference in Manchester on Thursday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell endorsed the idea of extending to employees the ‘right to own’, another idea proposed in the Co-operative Party’s 2015 manifesto.

Commenting on the findings, Co-operative Party Chair Gareth Thomas said:

“My Bill would help to ensure that the lessons from some of Britain’s most successful businesses are embedded in every company, seeing profits and power are shared, as they are in employee owner businesses like John lewis.

Most people have seen little change in their pay packet over the last decade, whilst income at the very top has soared. Employees at all levels of a business should enjoy fairer rewards from the profits their hard work creates.

Giving employees a greater say and ensuring that everyone has an incentive to drive up profits boosts productivity – where Britain lags far behind other G7 countries.

In short, we need to champion a shared economy which promotes long term business growth and profitability, places more value on the work of all staff, and ensures power isn’t just the preserve of the highest paid.”

Co-operative Party General Secretary, Claire McCarthy, who commissioned the polling, added:

“Britain is in desperate need of a pay rise, with workers facing the longest decline in living standards in a generation. We need an economy where everyone has a stake, with the benefits of success fairly shared.

With Co-operative MPs including Gareth Thomas leading the way, we’ll be working to ensure that ideas from our 2015 manifesto, including profit sharing and employee ownership, are central to Labour’s vision for a new economy.”


Notes for editors

  1. Populus online poll commissioned by the Co-operative Party, carried out 20-21st January 2017, with a weighted base of 2015 people.
  2. Total response was
  1. 1540 (76%) NET support
  2. 936 (46%) Strongly support
  3. 604( 30%) Slightly Support
  4. 314 (16%) neither support nor oppose
  5. 86 (4%) Slightly oppose
  6. 75 (4%) Strongly oppose
  7. 162 (8%) NET oppose
  1. The Co-operative Party is the political party of the co-operative movement. The Party has had an electoral agreement with the Labour Party since 1927.
  2. There are currently 24 Labour & Co-operative MPs as well as members of the House of Lords, National Assembly for Wales and Scottish Parliament. In addition, the Party has hundreds of Councillors in local government across Britain.
  3. Gareth Thomas MP is Chair of the Co-operative Party – his Profit-sharing and Company Governance (Employees Participation) motion is due to be debated in Parliament on 26th January
  4. Proposals on profit sharing and employee ownership were originally included in the Party’s 2015 ‘Agenda for Britain’ published at (https://party.coop/wp-content/blogs.dir/5/files/2015/07/manifesto-final-web.pdf)
  5. According to House of Commons Library calculations, under the plans workers at clothing store Sports Direct could earn £507 more each, while staff at Sainsbury’s would make £397. At BT the average employee could take home an extra £1,209.