General Election 2017: Parties’ proposals for employment law
1st June, 2017
We provide below a summary of the employment law proposals being made by the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats in the lead up to the general election on 8 June 2017.
Conservative Party proposals
The Conservative Party’s manifesto, ‘Forward Together’, was published on 18 May 2017. The Prime Minister Theresa May stated, on 15 May 2017, that the Conservative Manifesto included the “greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in history”.
Among the proposals in the Conservative Party’s manifesto are the following:
- All workers’ rights derived from EU law will be protected after Brexit. The manifesto makes no mention of measures that will be amended or repealed as a result of exiting the EU.
- The National Living Wage shall continue to be increased in line with current target of 60% of median earnings by 2020 and then by the rate of median earnings. There is no mention of similar increases for the other rates of the national minimum wage.
- Following the outcome of the Taylor Review they will act to provide ‘proper protection’ to gig economy workers.
- Requiring listed companies to implement one of the following to improve employee representation at board level:
- Nominate a board director from the workforce;
- Create a formal employee advisory council; or
- Assign specific responsibility for employee representation to a designated non-executive director.
- Introducing a right for employees to request information relating to the future direction of their company which may include requests for information on takeovers, asset disposals and reorganisations.
- Extending gender pay gap reporting to include ‘more data’, include reporting requirements in respect of race as well as gender and continue initiatives to improve number of female directors on boards.
- Introduce new right for employees to request unpaid time off for training (this right currently only applies to employers with 250 or more employees).
- Providing workers with new right to carer’s leave allowing the worker to take between 13 and 52 weeks off work, while retaining their employment rights.
- Introducing a new entitlement to child bereavement leave.
- Making executive pay packages subject to annual votes by shareholders.
- Providing protection for vulnerable workers by:
- Extending the Equality Act 2010 to cover discrimination against those suffering from mental health conditions that are ‘episodic and fluctuating’.
- Amending health and safety regulations so that employers provide first aid training and needs assessment for mental health, as they currently do for risks to physical health.
- Providing incentives to employers to employ certain vulnerable workers such as one year’s relief from National Insurance Contributions.
- Doubling the Immigration Skills Charge to £2,000.
Labour Party proposals
Labour’s proposals are by far the most headline grabbing and far-reaching, including all workers’ rights derived from EU law being protected after Brexit, introducing four new bank holidays, a commitment to abolish tribunal fees and an outright ban on zero-hours contracts and to legislate against short hours contracts. Also included at point one of the 20-point plan is a promise to give ‘all workers equal rights from day one’! Without further detail on this it is difficult to know what rights Labour are referring to. If these rights include unfair dismissal rights then this would be a huge change for businesses as the service required for such a right was only increased from one-year to two years in 2012.
Liberal Democrat Party proposals
The Liberal Democrat’s released their manifesto on 17 May 2017, ‘Change Britain’s Future: Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2017’.
Among the proposals in the Liberal Democrat Party’s manifesto are the following:
- Abolish employment tribunal fees.
- Reform gig-economy worker protections following the Taylor Review.
- Extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encouraging their use in the private sector.
- Guarantee the freedom to wear religious and cultural dress.
- Outlaw caste discrimination.
- Reform zero-hour contracts to provide a right to request a fixed-hours contract.
- Make the right to request flexible working, paternity leave and shared parental leave ‘Day 1’ rights.
- Introduce four weeks’ paid paternity leave.
- End the pay freeze in the NHS and the 1% cap on other areas of public sector pay and protect NHS whistle-blowers.
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