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What does the Conservatives’ win mean for employment law?

With the Conservatives now in power following last week's election, we take a look at what can be expected in terms of changes in employment law.

Zero hours contracts
Most of the political parties took a hard view of zero hours contracts and the Conservatives are no different. Exclusivity clauses are almost certainly going to be banned through bringing in force section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

The national minimum wage will be increased to £6.70 on 1 October 2015 as expected and by the end of 2020 a commitment has been made that it will reach £8. Alongside this, the personal tax free allowance will be increased to £12,500 and will become linked to increases in minimum wage.

Public Sector redundancy payments
The Conservatives plan to tackle public sector enhanced redundancy payments. It appears that this will be done by capping the redundancy payments to £95,000 with an exception for those who earn less than £27,000. Provision will also be made for the repayment of public sector exit payments in certain circumstances.

Industrial action
A number of proposals for reform have been suggested in this area to prevent “disruptive and undemocratic strike action”. Amongst suggested reforms, the ban on employers using agency workers will potentially be lifted and strike action in important public services will require 40% of eligible voters to vote in favour of the strike.

Tribunal fees
The Conservatives have committed to retaining the current tribunal fee system, subject to the outcome of the judicial review appeal.

The Conservatives are keen on creating extra apprenticeships and have pledged that three million more will be created over the next three years. Incentives may be introduced to encourage this commitment to be realised.

The Conservatives aim to ensure more disabled people are able to gain employment and further intend to promote gender equality by requiring companies with over 250 employees to publish the difference in average pay of their male and female employees.

British Bill of Rights
The Conservatives are keen to have decisions on human rights made by UK courts; they plan to introduce a new British Bill of Rights which would replace the Human Rights Act 1998.

The UK’s membership in the EU may also be renegotiated with a yes/no referendum expected by the end of 2017. This would have a significant impact on employment law.

Long term sickness
The Conservatives say they aim to aid those suffering from long-term but treatable conditions, such as obesity or addictions, in returning to work by ensuring they receive the medical treatment they need. Benefit implications may result if medical treatment is refused.

Paid volunteering leave
It is proposed that public sector organisations and large companies (with over 250 employees) will be required to foot the bill for up to three days a year volunteering leave for all employees.

In conclusion
The Conservatives’ say their policies are focused around their commitment to increasing employment in the UK.  In the coming months we can expect to see changes to reflect the pledges highlighted above.

For more information on how the changes could affect your business our employment team would be happy to help.

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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