With the Conservatives moving towards a majority in yesterday’s general election, there is renewed interest in their employment law policy commitments.
The promise of an EU in/out referendum by 2017 has significant implications for employment law, given the impact of EU law on employment rights in the UK. In addition, attention will turn to the commitment to reform strike laws, particularly in essential services. The new policy promising employees a ‘volunteering leave’ entitlement will present more immediate challenges for some employers, depending on the details. We summarise the main employment law proposals below:
Pay and bonuses
- Require larger employers to disclose information on their gender pay gap.*
- Cap public sector redundancy payments at £95,000.
*This measure was included in legislation before Parliament was dissolved for the election and must be implemented by April 2016.
National minimum wage (NMW) and the living wage
- Support an above-inflation rise in the NMW (if approved by the Low Pay Commission).
- Support the retention of fees, subject to the outcome of the judicial review appeal this year.
- See gender pay gap proposal above.
- Support greater female representation on boards.
Zero hour contracts (ZHC)
- Ban exclusivity, enhance information and guidance to improve transparency over ZHC terms and rights.
In/out European Union referendum?
- Yes – seek to renegotiate EU membership then hold an in/out referendum by end 2017.
European Convention on Human Rights
- Introduce a British Bill of Rights, repeal the Human Rights Act and turn the European Court of Human Rights into an advisory body only.
Strike law change and industrial relations
- A number of proposals including: 50% or more must vote in all ballots, additionally, in essential services, 40% of all eligible voters must vote in favour of strikes; end the ban on using agency staff to cover for essential striking workers; time limit the mandate of each strike ballot.
- Lift the ban on agency workers providing essential cover during strikes.
Migrant exploitation and modern slavery
- Implement the Modern Slavery Act requiring businesses to report on steps taken to be ‘slavery and trafficking free’, including in supply chains.
- Introduce “tougher labour market regulation” to tackle illegal working and exploitation.
- Require public sector employers and companies with more than 250 employees to give staff up to three paid days-off a year to do voluntary work (“volunteering leave”).