The General Election is on and it’s set for 12th December 2019.
How will this impact employment law? It’s impossible to say for certain that party promises will be kept. But, we’ve kept tabs on the pledges that have been made so far.
Here’s some of the implications for future changes:
Conservative Queen’s Speech Pledges
First, let’s take a look at some of the pre-election promises.
On 14 October 2019, the Queen outlined pledges for legal developments. The Conservative Government intended to introduce the following:
- The introduction of a new Bill to ensure that tips are distributed fairly to ‘those who work hard to earn them’. Employers in relevant sectors, such as hospitality, will have to follow a new statutory code of practice on tip distribution.
- Enhancing the powers of the Pensions Regulator. This will allow it to respond earlier if employers aren’t taking their pension enrolment responsibilities seriously.
- Further reforms to continue to deliver on the commitments of the Good Work Plan. This includes provisions that ensure employees who want to work flexibly aren’t unfairly prevented from doing so. And, stricter enforcement to prevent poor treatment of workers and better support for working families.
In addition, expected changes to the National Living Wage were confirmed—currently the highest minimum wage band. Rates will increase to £10.50 an hour within the next five years, whilst age bandings will also be lowered. By 2021, workers aged 23 and over will be eligible to receive the Living Wage. By 2024, this will also be extended to those aged 21 and over.
If Labour win, these developments may be subject to further amends, changes, or removed completely.
Other Confirmed Conservative Developments
The Conservative Government will legislate to provide enhanced redundancy protections for pregnant women and new parents.
These development will extend current legal protections by six months. Similar protections will be given to those returning from adoption and shared parental leave.
The government will also legislate to provide further oversight on the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in employment.
In particular, they aim to prohibit NDAs from preventing disclosures of illegal acts to the police. They’ll also ensure that NDAs clearly lay out their limitations. This will place an obligation on individuals receiving independent legal advice before signing an NDA. Finally, they’ll put into place additional enforcement measures.
Currently, it’s unclear when legislation will be presented to adopt these provisions into law. As outlined above, if Labour win the election, they could amend or even remove these expected changes going forward.
Labour’s Election Pledges
Labour have outlined developments that they would seek to implement were they to take office. They are as follows:
- Extending current statutory maternity pay provisions to cover a full year and doubling parental leave from two to four weeks.
- Introducing four new bank holidays to celebrate patron saint days.
- Increasing the amount of time that employees can take off work for shared parental leave.
- Providing 30 hours of free childcare for all two to four year olds.
- Introducing a new Workers’ Protection Agency to fine organisations who fail to report their gender pay gap.
- Requiring large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy.
- Offering flexible working from day one of employment.
- Closing the gender pay gap by 2030.
- Providing workers a stake in the companies they work for by requiring larger companies to set up Inclusive Ownership Funds.
- Establishing a Ministry for Employment Rights that will roll out sectoral collective bargaining across the economy.
- Establishing a single status of ‘worker’ aside from those who are genuinely self-employed.
- Banning zero hours contracts.
- Reducing restrictions placed upon trade unions, which will include repealing the Trade Union Act 2016.
- Reducing average full-time weekly working hours to 32 across the economy and preventing employees from being able to opt out of the 48-hour working week.
Labour have also pledged to invest £3bn per year in free adult retraining to tackle the skills crisis. Under these plans, adults would be offered up to six years of additional training, alongside the legal right to take paid time off work in which to do this.
Of course, Labour isn’t the only political party pledging to improve options for adult education.
The Liberal Democrats have also announced plans to provide a ‘skills wallet.’ This would assist people in paying for their further training. Under these proposals, individuals would have £4,000 put into the wallet at age 25, a further £3,000 at the age of 40 and £3,000 at 55. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are testing plans for a National Retraining Scheme. This is intended to help those who wish to train for jobs, or find alternative careers, if their roles are threatened by automation.
Both major parties are committing to ongoing developments of employment law. A key area to be aware of is upcoming changes to the minimum wage. Regardless of who wins, both rates and age bands will change, something that will undoubtedly impact businesses.
Whatever the outcome, employers must make sure they are fully up to date with all legal developments that will affect them going forward.
Are you concerned about a particular pledge and how it might impact your business? Or, do you have an HR problem and not sure how to solve it?
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