How will the 2015 General Election affect employment law?

In the run up to the 2015 General Election on Thursday 7 May, we take a look at the main political parties and some of their plans in relation to employment law should they come to power.

Only time will tell as to which of the below policies will actually be implemented, but it is quite clear that employment law is about to see change.

Labour:

  • Labour intends to raise the National Minimum Wage to more than 8 per hour by 2020. However, this intention has since been qualified with Labour now saying that 8 per hour is a target figure.
  • Companies will be offered tax rebates if they commit to paying the Living Wage. Additionally, publicly listed companies will be required to provide reports on whether or not they pay the Living Wage.
  • Companies will be required to disclose pay packages of their top earners and will also have to show the ratio of total pay of their highest earners against their average employee.
  • Labour is targeting exploitative zero hours contracts. Employees working what Labour defines as regular hours for more than 12 weeks will be entitled to a regular contract. Labour also intends to prevent employers from insisting that zero hours workers be available at all times and to prevent them from cancelling shifts at the last minute without providing compensation.
  • Labour would require that all large companies publish their gender pay gap. Labour has also promised to strengthen the law against maternity discrimination and to provide a race equality strategy.
  • Labour has promised to abolish employment tribunal fees.
  • Labour intends to preserve the Human Rights Act.
  • Paternity pay is to be increased to more than £260 per week and paid paternity leave is to be doubled from two to four weeks.
  • Free childcare is to be increased from 15 to 25 hours for three and four year olds of working parents. Labour also intends to guarantee that primary schools will provide wrap around care from 8am to 6pm with before and after school clubs and activities.
  • They intend to increase the National Minimum Wage to £6.70 per hour by autumn 2015 with a view to increase it to over £8 per hour by the end of 2020.
  • The tax-free personal allowance will be increased to £12,500. Additionally, the tax-free personal allowance will increase in line with the National Minimum Wage.

Conservatives:

  • The Conservatives promise to encourage businesses to pay the Living Wage, if they can afford to do so.
  • Companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees.
  • The Conservatives promise to end exclusivity in zero hours contracts.
  • The party will replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.
  • Free childcare is to be increased to 30 hours for three and four year olds of working parents.
  • The Conservatives wish to prevent disruptive and undemocratic strike action. They intend to require that strike action in the health, transport, fire and education sectors have a minimum turnout of 40% of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots. Those who turn out to vote would have to vote in favour of a strike by majority. 
  • The Conservatives also intend to prevent strike action being called on the basis of old ballots and they intend to allow employers to use agency workers to cover striking employees.

Lib-Dems:

  • The Lib Dems intend to create a right for workers on zero hours contracts to request a fixed-term contract and also pledge to stamp out abuse of zero hours contracts.
  • The party promises to ask the Low Pay Commission to look at ways of increasing the National Minimum Wage without damaging employment opportunities. They will also look to improve measures for tackling abuse by employers who get around paying the National Minimum wage.
  • Raise the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 by the end of the next Parliament.
  • Review employment tribunal fees to ensure they are not a barrier to the enforcement of employment rights

UKIP:

  • UKIP will not ban zero hours contracts but do intend to introduce a code of conduct which will require employers to offer workers a permanent full of part-time contract after one year of employment if requested. UKIP will also ban exclusivity in zero hours contracts and will require that workers are provided with 12 hours notice prior to a shift after which a worker must be paid, even if the employer no longer needs them.
  • Raise the tax-free personal allowance to £13,000. This will mean that those on National Minimum Wage will not pay any income tax.
  • UKIP wishes to remove Britain from the European Union. The party insists that all European Union employment rights will be brought into UK law should this occur.
  • The party will replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.
  • UKIP intends to allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first.

The Green Party:

  • The Green Party proposes to end zero hours contracts altogether.
  • The party promises to make the National Minimum Wage a Living Wage for all by increasing the National Minimum Wage to £10 per hour by 2020.
  • The party would require that all companies adhere to a maximum ratio of 10:1 between their highest and lowest paid employees. They also promise to ensure equal pay for men and women.
  • Reducing employment tribunal fees to ensure that tribunals are accessible to all.
  • The Human Rights Act will remain, together with Britain membership of the European Union.
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