The General Election – what do the parties’ manifestos say about employment rights?
17th April, 2015
With the General Election only a matter of weeks away, the main political parties have all released their manifestos. While employment rights might not always get the biggest headlines, all of the parties address employment rights in their manifestos, all have made specific pledges on matters affecting workers and there are some interesting proposals.
We have sifted through the manifestos to bring you a summary of what you might expect in possible employment law changes in the next Queen’s Speech, depending on who wins the election.
With opinion polls suggesting that the election race is going to be very tight, clearly there is a chance that all these policies could be watered down depending on whether coalitions are formed and between whom.
We have not included the pledges made by the SNP, the Greens or Plaid Cymru but clearly if they are part of any coalition they could also have a big say on any of the policies below.
There is very little detail in relation to some of the parties’ proposals and therefore it can be difficult to gauge the potential impact of their proposals.
That said, all parties seem to agree that changes need to be made in relation to zero hours contracts and therefore legislation on this can be expected whoever is successful. Possibly the most striking potential change is Labour’s pledge to scrap the Employment Tribunal fees.
The main employment-related policy pledges are as follows:
- Abolish Employment Tribunal fees
- Increase minimum wage to £8 per hour by October 2019
- Introduce a tax rebate system for employers paying the Living Wage
- Introduce the right to a regular contract for zero hours workers who work regular hours for more than a 12 week period
- Prohibit exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts
- Introduce compensation to be paid by employers for zero hours workers whose shifts are cancelled at short notice
- Large companies to be required to publish their gender pay gap
- Strengthen the law against maternity discrimination
- Double paternity leave from 2 to 4 weeks plus £100 pay increase
- Proposals to make the minimum wage £8 per hour by 2020
- Stop abuse of zero hours contracts
- Require companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees
- Substantial changes to voting rules on strike action
- Introduce a single national minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds in work and first year of apprenticeships
- Create a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time working under a zero hours contract
- All central government departments and agencies to pay the Living Wage from April 2016
- Introduce “Name blank” application forms for public sector jobs
- Require companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of the different pay levels of men and women in their organisation
- Introduce a new “Workers’ Rights Agency” to improve the enforcement of employment rights
- Review Employment Tribunal fees to ensure they are not a barrier to justice
- Protect the rights of trade union members to have their subscriptions, including political levies, deducted from their salary
- Introduce a fixed contract after a year for zero hours workers
- Introduce a Code of Conduct for the use of zero hours contracts
- Repeal the Agency Workers Directive
- Allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first
Once the election has finished and either a majority or coalition government’s Queen’s Speech has been delivered we will update you again on the finalised plans that might become legislation.
For further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Stuart Craig or a member of the employment team.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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