HM Insights

Employment Law and the Election - Where do the parties stand?

Promises and speculation – employment law in the election

With less than a month to go to the general election and with all political parties in full election mode we now have some idea of what to expect, depending on who comes into power (and the parties sticking to their manifestos...), after May's general election.

The success of the seven party debate points to the fact that the days of the two party system may be numbered. With that, it ushers in the reality, as recent polls show, that any party being able to obtain an outright majority at this year's general election in May is unlikely.

It will be worth considering that whichever party or parties form the government, it will be unlikely that they will be able pass their entire manifesto pledges in their current form. Negotiation will be the order of the day, be that in order to form a coalition government or in a bill by bill basis for a minority government. This will no doubt have a knock on effect to employment related legislation.

Many of the parties have set out how they will tackle employment issues if they find themselves in power after 7th May 2015, so I set out a brief overview of what we are told that we can expect:

Conservatives:

  • Permitting strike action only where mandated by vote with at least 50% turnout;
  • Will ban the use of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts in order to reduce the abuse of zero hour contracts by employers;
  • Repeal the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities;
  • Raise the minimum wage to £7.00 per hour.

Labour:

  • Launched "A better plan for Britain's workplaces" on 1st April 2015.
  • Ensuring proper access to justice in the workplace by abolishing/reforming the employment tribunal fee system.
  • Introducing the right to a regular contract for zero hours workers, after working for 12 weeks, this will be measured over the first 12 weeks of employment. This is alongside new legal rights for workers on zero hour contracts to prevent employers forcing workers to be available at all hours or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.
  • National minimum wage to rise to £8 per hour by 2020;
  • Doubling paternity leave to four weeks and increasing the level of pay so that fathers receive the equivalent of a full week's work paid at the national minimum wage.

Liberal Democrats:

  • An additional four weeks of paternity leave;
  • A single national minimum wage for 16 to 17 year olds;
  • A national minimum wage enforcement section will be introduced to the HM Revenue and Customs;
  • Establishing a new "Workers Rights Agency" by combining the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate, the Working Time Directive of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Gangmaster Licensing Authority.

UKIP:

  • Repeal the Agency Workers Directive, which gives agency workers who have been hired for 12 continuous weeks the right to equal treatment with their hirer's employees;
  • Introduce a code of conduct (or legislation, if necessary) requiring employers to offer fixed hours contracts to employees who have worked under zero hour contracts for a year;
  • Businesses to be given the right to discriminate in favour of young British workers.
  • The UK will withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, and repeal the Human Rights Act to be replaced with a new British Bill of Rights.

Greens:

  • Minimum Wage: commitment to turn the national minimum wage into a genuine living wage;
  • More generous maternity and paternity leave;
  • Reduction of corporation tax for small firms to 20%;
  • Workers rights to apply to part time, casual workers and the self employed from the first day of employment;
  • Larger companies will be required to carry out equal pay audits.

SNP:

  • Full devolution of employment law to Scotland. It should be noted under the draft clauses for the new Scotland Bill the powers controlling employment tribunals are to be devolved to Scotland anyway.
  • Promoting workers' rights through the Fair Work Convention.
  • Ensuring as many workers as possible benefit from the Living Wage.
  • Tackling unacceptable employment practices.

We will keep you updated with further blogs on any significant additional proposed measures or swings in position during the course of the campaign, before analysing the policies of the successful party or parties post election.