The General Election will take place on 12 December and with the campaign in full swing the major UK parties have announced their manifestos. Whilst the major issues in the campaign thus far have been around Brexit, the NHS and national infrastructure, all the parties have made various pledges when it comes to the world of employment law.
In a series of blogs, we'll take a look at what each of the major UK parties have promised to deliver in their manifesto in relation to employment law. This is our third blog, focusing on the Labour manifesto.
Please see our first blog where we look at the Brexit Party, Green Party and the Scottish National Party and our second blog, looking at the Liberal Democrat manifesto.
Labour's manifesto contains more pledges than all of the other parties when it comes to work and working conditions. The headline pledge was the immediate increase to the Living Wage but there are many other policies outlined:
- living wage of £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 or over
- compel large companies to give employees 10% ownership of the company (to include payments of dividends)
- bring in additional rights for the self-employed, including free childcare, collective income protection insurance schemes and better access to mortgages and pensions
- set up a Ministry for Employment Rights
- give everyone full employment rights from day one on the job
- strengthen protection for whistleblowers and strengthen unfair dismissal rights
- clarify worker status
- ban zero-hour contracts
- require breaks during shifts to be paid
- extending statutory maternity pay from 9 months to 12 months
- introduce four new bank holidays
- re-introduce employer's liability for harassment by third parties
- ban unpaid internships
- strengthen trade union rights, but allowing unions to use electronic balloting, strengthening unions' right of access to workplaces, and repealing the Trade Union Act 2016
- reduce average working hours to 32 hours per week within 10 years
- keep employment tribunals free
- introduce new Labour Courts
- make state responsible for enforcing equal pay
- require workplaces with >50 employees to obtain government certification on gender equality or face fines
- require all large employers to have flexible working and menopause policies
- introduce 10 days of paid leave for survivors of domestic abuse
- right to request flexible working on day one of employment
- introduction of Workers Protection Agency
- extend pay-gap reporting to BAME groups
As with the Liberal Democrats manifesto, many of the suggested policies follow on directly from the Taylor Review and Good Work Plan, including the creation of the Workers Protection Agency and clarification of worker status. There is also similarity between policies from other parties such as flexible working from day one, a reduction in working hours down to 32 hours a week and protections for employees experiencing menopause symptoms. However, there is a considerable amount of the Labour manifesto which is new and would result in potentially significant changes to employment law.
Some of the policies announced are clear and would lead to immediate changes such as the raising of the Living Wage to £10 and the increased period for payment of Statutory Maternity Pay from 9 months' to 12 months' entitlement. In addition, Labour also propose a requirement that breaks are paid and four new Bank Holidays being introduced will see employees given more paid time off across the year.
Other interesting proposals include the extension of pay gap reporting from Gender to also look at BAME groups, which had been consulted on previously by the Government but had fallen by the wayside. The proposal to require certification on gender equality would give more teeth to the existing Gender Pay Gap regime.
The re-introduction of employer's liability for harassment by third parties would mean that employers need to take extra steps to ensure employees are protected from harassment in the workplace.
As ever with manifestos, there are policies which need more details before their impact can be fully assessed, for example, although new Labour courts and a new Ministry on Employment Rights are proposed there are no details of the jurisdiction of either. Proposals to strengthen protection for whistleblowers and unfair dismissal rights aren't developed so it is unclear what this would look like.
Potentially most significantly, there is mention that "full employment rights" will be available from day one. No detail is provided on this but if this was extended in full then this would mean extensions to rights of maternity leave, maternity pay and most significantly unfair dismissal. It remains to be seen whether or not such a proposal would be implemented – and how - as the manifesto pledge is not clearly drafted.
Our final blog will look at the Conservative manifesto and analyse themes evident across the party manifestos. Look out for this soon.
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If your organisation has any questions in relation to employment law, please contact a member of our team.