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25 May 2017

Election Manifestos – employment implications

The three main political parties have now published their manifestos for the General Election. We outline below the key employment-related implications but as always, the devil will be in the detail:

Conservatives

Theresa May claimed that the Conservative manifesto would be the “greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in History”. The key employment policies in their manifesto “Forward,Together” are:

  • Workers will enjoy the same rights after Brexit as they currently do
  • The  self-employed and those working in “gig economy” will be properly protected following the publication of the Taylor Review
  • Discrimination protection is to be extended for those with mental health problems that are “episodic and fluctuating”
  • Further action is to be taken to address the gender pay gap with the requirement for large employers to provide additional data
  • Action is to be taken to address the ethnicity pay gap in large employers
  • The National Living Wage is to be increased to 60% of median earnings by 2020
  • Steps to be taken to improve the take-up of shared parental leave and to help companies provide more flexible work environments
  • Introduction of new rights for:
    • Unpaid time off to care for sick relatives
    • Unpaid time off for training for all employees
    • Child bereavement leave
    • Support for those returning to work after family leave
  • Fair corporate pay with executive pay packages being subject to strict annual votes by shareholders and listed companies being required to publish the ratio of executive pay to the broader UK workforce pay
  • Better corporate governance with listed companies being required to ensure employees’ interests are represented at board level

There is no reference to the reform of employment tribunal fees. 

Labour

The Labour manifesto “For the Many, not the Few” sets out a 20 point plan for “security and equality at work”. These include to:

  • Abolish employment tribunal fees and extend time for bringing a maternity discrimination claim from 3 to 6 months
  • Guarantee that all workers’ existing rights EU law will be protected after Brexit.
  • Make all existing employment rights “day one” rights and extend them to workers
  • Increase paternity pay and double the length of paternity leave
  • Extend maternity pay period to 12 months
  • Introduce statutory bereavement leave
  • Introduce four new bank holidays in addition to current statutory holiday entitlement
  • Ban zero hours contracts
  • Re-instate protection from third party harassment
  • Create a new Ministry of Labour to ensure employment rights are enforced
  • Give unions new rights in the workplace including repealing the Trade Union Act and guaranteeing a right to access workplaces
  • Introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers
  • Establish an independent body to ensure compliance with gender pay gap reporting
  • Raise the National Minimum Wage to the level of the National Living Wage for all workers aged 18 or over

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat manifesto “Change Britain’s Future: Liberal Democrat manifesto 2017” has several sections which cover employment-related issues. The key employment policies include:

  • The abolition of tribunal fees
  • On Brexit – to defend existing social rights and equality laws
  • Modernising employment rights making them “fit for the age of the gig economy”
  • Stamping out abuse of zero hours contracts and creating a right for workers to request a fixed term contract and consulting on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time
  • Flexible working, paternity and shared parental leave to be “day one” rights
  • To create an additional month’s shared parental leave on a “use it or lose it” basis to encourage fathers to take time off
  • The introduction of pay gap reporting for gender, race and sexual orientation
  • To outlaw caste discrimination
  • To guarantee the freedom of people to wear religious or cultural dress and tackle the growing incidence of Islamophobic hate crime
  • A continuing drive for boardroom diversity and implementing the Parker review recommendations into ethnic minority boardroom representation
  • To strengthen worker participation in decision-making with a right for employees of a listed company to be represented on the board.

For more information please contact Nick Hurley on +4402072035039 or at nick.hurley@crsblaw.com.

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