The General Election will take place on 12 December and, with the campaign in full swing, the major UK parties have announced their manifestos. While 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.
In this first blog, we look at the Brexit Party, Green Party and the Scottish National Party.
In their manifesto the Green Party announced various policies that would impact on employment law and the world of work. These include:
- Incentivise changes to travelling behaviour by promoting more stay at home working with working hours’ heating, electricity and Wi-Fi costs reimbursed by employers for low income workers;
- Reviewing current employment law to ensure that gig economy workers always receive at least the current minimum wage, and have job security, sick leave, holiday pay and pension provision;
- Closing the gender pay gap. All large and medium size companies will be required to carry out equal pay audits and redress any inequality uncovered both in terms of equal pay for equal work, and recruitment and retention practices. This would include a change the law so it is easier to take action against employers in unequal pay cases.
- Installing a 40% quota for women on major company boards.
- Requiring all employers, no matter their size, to legally recognise any union chosen by their workforce to represent them.
- Creating an environment where everyone feels fulfilled in worthwhile employment and pursuing policy which will lead to a shorter working week and better work life balance with no loss of pay.
- Support employers to explore the benefits of offering menstruation and menopausal leave to workers.
Although presented as a new policy following the Taylor Review, work is already under way to reform employment status, particularly looking at the gig economy. Likewise, current legislation allows a process for Trade Union recognition subject to certain conditions being met, so without further details it is unclear if these policies would lead to substantial changes.
Employers can choose to reimburse employees who work from home regularly and tax relief is available so policy in this area would need further detail before the potential impact can be assessed.
More impactful are the suggested policies on closing equality issues. Although larger companies are required to report on their Gender Pay Gap, there is no legal requirement for companies to take steps to address any gap they find, so a requirement to address this would require more actions from employers. Equally, the introduction of a quota for women on major company boards will affect those organisations caught by this new policy.
Flexible working is an area which is caught by many of the manifestos with many of the parties suggesting that an improvement is needed in work life balance. The Green Party have indicated their support for a shorter working week for no loss of pay; it is unclear whether this mean a reduction in the number of days or hours worked. Support for those experiencing symptoms of the menopause is a topical consideration and offering leave for affected employees is perhaps the first logical step.
Scottish National Party
The SNP was the last party to publish its manifesto, but employment law is currently a reserved matter for the UK Government. The SNP has asked for greater control over employment law and has demanded that employment policy should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament in order it has greater control over employment law.
Until that is achieved they have pledged to support increases to the statutory living wage and tougher action to close the gender pay gap including the introduction of fines for those who fail to meet an agreed Equal Pay Standard.
They have called for the full implementation of the Taylor Review to ensure that all employees (as the manifesto terms them) regardless of atypical status have access to full employment rights.
The Brexit Party
The Brexit Party has little to say in relation to the world of employment law, with their primary focus on other issues. They have made one commitment to scrap the Apprenticeship Levy and focus more on traditional apprentices by introducing tax incentives for employers taking on apprentices. The Levy only came into force in April 2017 and meant businesses with an annual pay bill of £3 million or more had to pay equivalent to 0.5% of their annual pay bill as levy towards funding apprenticeships. Scrapping the scheme will mean a small saving for larger employers who contributed to the Levy, however SMEs who did not have to pay the Levy but took on apprentices through the funded schemes, may lose out, depending on the terms of the replacement scheme.
Next week, we'll take a look at Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservative manifestos.
Get in touch
If your organisation has any questions in relation to employment law, please contact a member of our team.