HM Insights

Post Election - an unexpected outcome

Unless you were the lucky (or very insightful) Glaswegian who won £210,000 after placing a bet on a Conservative majority, chances are that you, like the pollsters, were not expecting the result of the election.

One benefit of there being no negotiations for a coalition agreement is that it predictions for the future changes to employment law can be made with an increased degree of certainty. The Conservative pledges in their manifesto are as outlined below. However, this certainty will only last until 2017 when the IN/OUT EU referendum that David Cameron has pledged to hold is expected to take place and depending on the result of this, there could be major changes to employment law.

What to Expect from a Conservative Government

Zero Hours Contracts - It is proposed to eradicate exclusivity in zero hours contracts, which will be achieved by bringing section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 into force, in order to make exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts unenforceable.

National Minimum Wage (NMW) - the Conservatives will seek a real term increase in the NMW during the next Parliament. The recommendations of the Low Pay Commission to increase the NMW to £6.70 by autumn 2015 with a view to increasing the NMW to over £8 an hour by the end of 2020 have been accepted.

The Conservatives have pledged to increase the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 so anyone earning less than £12,500 will not pay income tax. They will also pass a law so that the Personal Allowance will automatically rise in line with the National Minimum Wage.

Equality – The aim of the Conservatives is to halve the disability employment gap, and also to promote full gender equality by requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees.

Introduce a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998, with the aim of breaking "the formal link between British Courts and the European Court of Human Rights". The aim is to make the Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK. As has been reported over the last couple of days, the SNP are opposing this through the Scottish Parliament, so there may be further developments on this.

Trade Unions - The Conservatives will introduce through legislation and other measures tougher thresholds for strike action in health, education, fire and transport. Industrial action would require a minimum 40% turnout of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots.

Referendum - the Conservatives will hold an In/Out EU referendum in 2017, with an Out result meaning a reset of the balance of powers between Brussels and Westminster. This would have major implications on all or at least most areas of employment law, as much of employment derives from EU law.

There may be a feeling that a majority government will bring some sense of stability in that we are able to foresee the manifesto pledges that will (probably) come about during the next Parliament, providing us with the time and the ability to understand the impact of these proposed changes. However the referendum will be an area of uncertainty with the outcome whatever the result having far reaching consequences on every person and business in the UK.

If you or your business have employment law concerns (whether under existing legislation or proposed changes), please contact one of our employment team.