Election Special

As we get ever closer to polling day it’s Brexit that is the main talking point of the third election in the past four years. But if you look closely, you can see what each of the main three parties are promising in other areas including worker’s rights.

At the moment, around 90% of UK employment law is based on European law. Of course, with the UK due to leave the EU, this gives whomever gets into Number 10, the chance to shake off those laws if they want to, leaving us to decide for ourselves how we want to treat our employees. So, here’s an overview of what the main parties are promising.

Jeremy Corbyn is promising some of the biggest changes to worker’s right in a generation. Here is a selection:

  • 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 payment of dividends);
  • Self-employed get additional rights including free childcare;
  • A Ministry for Employment Rights, which will roll out compulsory collective bargaining on minimum standards for pay and working hours by sector, that every employer will have to follow;
  • Give everyone full employment rights from day one on the job;
  • Ban zero-hour contracts;
  • Require paid breaks during shifts;
  • Extend statutory maternity pay from 9 months to 12 months;
  • Introduce 4 new bank holidays;
  • Strengthen trade union rights which will include strengthening unions’ right of access to workplaces;
  • Reduce average working hours to 32 hours a week within 10 years.
    … and more

It’s a far-reaching set of proposals, which many employees will applaud but many businesses may not be so keen on.

The concern about the Conservatives is that Boris Johnson will remove many elements that we have to follow under EU law at present. However, there is little appetite for a wide spread relaxation of the current system and therefore if the Tories get back in power it’s likely that very little will fundamentally change, and they seem to recognise that.

Their proposals include:

  • Giving workers the right to request a more predictable contract and other reasonable protections;
  • End the role of the European Court of Justice, and legislate to ensure a high standard of worker’s rights;
  • Encourage flexible working and consulting on making it an employer’s default position;
  • Enable parents to take extended leave for neo-natal care;
  • Extending the leave entitlement for unpaid carers, who are mostly women;
  • Funding more high-quality childcare before and after school and during the school holidays;
  • Reducing the disability employment gap;
  • A proposal to require significant numbers of new UK apprentices for all big new infrastructure projects;
  • Freezing the rates of income tax, National Insurance (NI) and VAT and increasing the NI threshold with the ultimate goal that anyone earning under £12,500 will not pay NI.

Liberal Democrats
The Lib Dems have given up on the idea of Jo Swinson realistically becoming Prime Minister so their plans may never see the light of day. However, if Parliament returns another hung parliament it’s possible that the Liberal Democrats could play a part in helping the Conservatives or Labour form a government. This makes it possible that some of the points below may come into play.

  • Introducing a ‘dedicated contractor’ employment status which would sit between ‘employed’ and ‘self-employed’. Workers falling under the label will be entitled to the national minimum wage, sick pay and holiday;
  • Introducing flexible working from commencement of employment with a requirement for employers to advertise jobs as being appropriate for flexible working;
  • Giving zero-hours and agency workers the right to request a fixed hours contract after 12 months;
  • Increasing statutory paternity leave to up to six weeks;
  • Extending pay gap reporting to include BAME and LGBT+ figures;
  • Introducing a ‘Skills Wallet’ giving every adult in England £10,000 to spend on education and training. Employers will be expected to contribute funds.
    … and more

This General Election is again one of the most difficult to predict. The latest polls suggest Boris will win a majority, but the polls were very wrong in 2015, 2016 and 2017, so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen in the polling booths on 12th December.

For advice and guidance on any current employment law legislation, or what might happen in the future then contact us on 01579 343700.

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