HM Insights

The 5 Big Employment Law issues at the Election: How the parties stand

Here's our final pre-General Election instalment before the UK General Election 2015.

For ease of reference (in case it will help to make up your mind) the below is a summary of the parties' positions to five main areas of employment law which have been the subject of much debate during the election run in.

National Minimum Wage

Conservatives: Will raise the minimum wage to £6.70 by autumn 2015 and will increase it to over £8 by the end of the decade.

Labour: Will raise minimum wage to more than £8 per hour by October 2019.

Liberal Democrats: Will raise the minimum wage to £6.70 by Oct 2015 and implement an independent review on how to set a fair living wage across all sectors. Pay the Living Wage in all central government departments and their agencies from 2016.

Scottish National Party (SNP): Will increase the national minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020 and support measures to extend the Living Wage across the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP): Will enforce the minimum wage and reverse government cuts in the number of minimum wage inspectors in both England and Wales.

Zero Hours Contracts

Conservatives: Take further steps to eradicate abuse of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts.

Labour: Will ensure that those workers on zero hour contracts who work regular hours for 12 or more weeks will have a right to a regular contract. Will also introduce new legal rights that will prevent employers forcing workers to be available at all hours or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.

Liberal Democrats: Will create formal rights for workers to request a fixed contract and will consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.

SNP: Will support action to end "unfair and exploitative" zero hour contracts, by launching a time-limited consultation, involving businesses and trade union, to agree the most effective way forward.

UKIP: No ban on zero hour contracts. Will introduce a Code of Conduct, banning exclusivity clauses, must provide workers 12 hours advance notice of work and allowing workers to request a secure contract after a year where the business has hired over 50 people.

Employment Tribunals

Conservatives: Nothing promised.

Labour: Abolish the employment tribunal fee system established by the Coalition Government to ensure workers have proper access to justice.

Liberal Democrats: Improve the enforcement of employment rights; carry out a review on tribunal fees to ensure they are not a barrier to workers seeking access to justice.

SNP: Seeking full devolution of employment law to Holyrood, note that in the draft clauses in the new Scotland Bill the powers governing employment tribunals in Scotland are to be devolved to Holyrood.

UKIP: Nothing promised.


Conservatives: Will aim to halve the disability employment gap. Will also aim 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, to make the Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.

Labour: Reduce discrimination against women by requiring large companies to publish their gender pay gap and strengthening the law against maternity discrimination. Establish a race equality strategy to ensure that public institutions are representative of black and ethnic minority communities.

Liberal Democrats: Introduce new rules on gender pay transparency and rules requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of the average pay of their male and female workers. Encourage diversity in leadership with a move towards woman making up 30% of board members. Encourage businesses to ensure that at least one of their board members is Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic.

SNP: Will promote equality and protect human rights with proposals to ensure woman represent 50% on public boards in Scotland. Push for the UK to take the same steps on female wide representation on UK wide public boards. Tighten the law on maternity discrimination. Equal pay audits on larger companies and to make employers of more than 250 people to publish annual gender pay gap information.

UKIP: will allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first.

Trade Unions

Conservatives: Introduction through legislation and other measures tougher thresholds for strike action in health, education, fire and transport and industrial action would require a minimum 40% turnout of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots.

Labour: Nothing promised.

Liberal Democrats: Protect the rights of trade union members to have their subscriptions deducted from their salary automatically and will encourage wider participation in trade union ballots through electronic voting.

SNP: Will look to encourage wider trade union participation and recognise the positive role of collective bargaining in improving labour market conditions. Will oppose plans to further restrict the right to strike and support trade unions with their plans to modernise the way strike ballots are taken and maximise participation with online voting.

UKIP: Nothing promised.

With only a few day to go to the election (and many postal votes already cast) it is unlikely that there will be any further radical policies to be announced. However, please keep an eye out for our final instalment where we will analyse the policies of the successful party or parties post election.

If you or your business have employment law concerns (whether under existing legislation or proposed changes), please contact Scott Milligan on 0141 227 9408 or [email protected] or contact one of our employment team.