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  • Writer's pictureLaura Childs

What employers need to know before the General Election

Brexit is the leading topic in all of the main political parties’ manifesto but what else do the three front runners promise that could affect employers and their workers? This blog provides an important summary of how the outcome of the General Election could affect employers and their staff depending on which party wins on the 12th December 2019. Check out who promises what and prepare for the inevitable changes ahead. We take a look at the Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democratic parties.

Conservative Manifesto

If, as they promise, the Conservatives get Brexit “done” they promise:

  1. To introduce an Australian style points-based system, attracting "the brightest and the best". Under such a system fewer lower skilled migrants will be allowed into the UK, which will impact on some sectors who currently rely on such workers.

  2. There will be no income tax or National Insurance rises and that it will raise the threshold at which individuals pay National Insurance to £9,500 in the first budget and, later, to £12,500.

  3. To raise the national living wage to £10.50 an hour by 2024 for those over the age of 21.

  4. To create a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law, whether by taking workers’ tips or refusing them sick pay.

  5. To ensure that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract and other reasonable protections and will encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers have good reasons not to.

  6. To legislate to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care, to support those who need it during the most vulnerable and stressful days of their lives and will look at ways to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave.

  7. To extend the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to a week and create 250,000 extra childcare places before and after school and during the holidays so that working parents do not have to choose between their careers and their children.

Labour Manifesto

If Labour win, they promise:

  1. To give EU nationals the right to remain in the UK without the need for having to apply to continue living and working in the country.

  2. That the state pension age would remain at 66 while retirement ages for those in stressful or arduous jobs will be reviewed.

  3. To raise the minimum wage for those over the age of 16 from £8.21 to £10 within the next year.

  4. To extend statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months, double paternity leave from two weeks to four, increase statutory paternity pay and introduce guaranteed bereavement pay.

  5. To create a Ministry for Employment Rights to deliver better wages, provide greater security and give workers more of a say in how their workplaces are run.

  6. The manifesto says Labour will “Give everyone full and equal rights from day one at work, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent. We will end the qualifying time for basic rights, such as unfair dismissal, sick pay and parental leave to end the arbitrary unfairness in of the system” [and] “give workers a stake in the companies they work for – and a share of the profits they help create – by requiring large companies to set up Inclusive Ownership Funds (IOFs). Up to 10% of a company will be owned collectively by employees, with dividend payments distributed equally among all, capped at £500 a year.”

  7. To give everyone full rights from day one on the job, strengthen protections for whistle-blowers and rights against unfair dismissal for all workers, with extra protections for pregnant women, those going through the menopause and terminally ill workers.

  8. To end bogus self-employment and create a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone apart from those genuinely self-employed and ban overseas-only recruitment practices.

  9. To ban zero-hour contracts and strengthen the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours.

  10. To require breaks during shifts to be paid, cancelled shifts to be paid and proper notice for changes in hours.

  11. All workers will be given the right to flexible working.

  12. That Trade union laws will also be strengthened under Labour and sectoral collective bargaining will be rolled out across the economy.

Liberal Democratic Manifesto

If the Liberal Democrats get in, they promise:

  1. To overhaul employment rights, particularly for workers in the gig economy. They plan to introduce a “dependent contractor” employment status which would sit in between employment and self-employment. Workers with such status would be entitled to the national minimum wage, sick pay and holiday.

  2. Zero-hour and agency workers will be given a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months.

  3. To shift the burden of proof in employment status cases from the individual to the employer.

  4. A new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority would be established to protect those in precarious work and rights and benefits available to those in insecure forms of employment will be expanded, such as offering parental pay.

  5. Flexible working would be open to all from day one in a job.

  6. The Liberal Democrats plan to increase income tax by a penny. They also promise to review the tax and national insurance status of employees, dependent contractors and freelancers to ensure fair and comparable treatment. They pledge to give zero-hour workers a 20% pay rise to make up for the fact that their work is insecure and review the proposals to change the IR35 rules.

  7. All children aged two to four to qualify for free childcare for 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year.

  8. In order to promote diversity in the workplace the Liberal Democrats pledge to:

• Increase statutory paternity leave to up to six weeks

• Require organisations to publish parental leave and pay policies

• Aim for women to make up at least 40% of FTSE 350 board members and increase ethnic minority representation

• Extend pay gap reporting to include BAME, and LGBT+ figures and generally to develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities

• Review funding of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is adequate

• Reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to remove the requirement for medical reports and formally recognise non-binary gender identities

• Outlaw caste discrimination.

9. Every adult in England will be given £10,000 to spend on education and training. Employers will be expected to contribute funds. As well as this, the apprenticeship levy will become a wider-reaching "Skills and Training Levy", with 25% of the funds raised going into a "Social Mobility Fund".

10. To ensure that new technologies are used in ethical and responsible ways.

They pledge to give staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees and strengthen worker participation in decision-making. Binding and public vote of shareholders on executive pay policies will be introduced.

11. To make changes to the immigration rules including replacing Tier 2 work visas with a more flexible merit-based system and creating a new two-year visa for students to work after graduation.

Comment: Quite a lot to think about! Our partners include law firms and HR consultants around the UK which means that employers, HR managers and General Counsel using the Eledecks Portal to manage their staff can easily access the best advice available. We make it really easy for clients to reach out to experienced employment lawyers through their portal account as and when they need support to safely interpret the changes to come.

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