Every major party has been scrambling for attention over the past few weeks by making various headline-grabbing promises to the electorate. Now that the manifestos have been revealed, we get a more detailed look at their post-election plans. In employment law reform, the following areas have emerged as key battlegrounds:
Zero Hours Contracts
The Conservatives will eradicate exclusivity in zero hours contracts, by passing legislation to make exclusivity clauses, which prevent an individual from working for another employer even when no work is guaranteed, unenforceable.
Labour will ensure that workers are given “regular contracts” if they work “regular hours” for more than 12 weeks. They also want to introduce rights for workers to prevent employers forcing them to be available at all times or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.
The Liberal Democrats aim to “stamp out abuse” of zero hours contracts and give workers a right to request a fixed contract, in addition to possibly making regular work contractual after a period of time.
UKIP proposes to introduce a legally binding Code of Conduct which would include a ban on exclusivity clauses, a requirement for businesses with 50 or more employees to give workers a fixed contract after one year if they request it, and a requirement that workers must be given 12 hours’ notice of work, and must be paid once this notice has been given regardless of whether any work is given.
The Green Party has stated it will end “exploitative” zero hours contracts.
National Minimum Wage (‘NMW’) and Living Wage
The Conservatives propose to increase the NMW to £6.70 this autumn with a view to increasing it to over £8 by the end of 2020. They have also pledged to support the Living Wage and encourage businesses who can afford it to pay it.
Labour plans to raise the NMW to “more than £8” by October 2019. They plan to give tax rebates to businesses that commit to paying the Living Wage in the first year of government through “Make Work Pay” contracts. They will also require publicly listed companies to report on whether they pay the living wage.
The Lib Dems will ask the Low Pay Commission to consider ways of increasing the NMW without damaging employment prospects, and require employers to publish how many employees are paid less than the Living Wage.
UKIP will improve enforcement of the NMW by reversing the cuts to the number of enforcement inspectors.
The Greens plan to make the NMW “a living wage for all”, by increasing the NMW to £8.10 in 2015, and to £10 by 2020.
The Conservatives will require companies with more than 250 employees to publish the average pay difference between their male and female employees. They also want to halve unemployment amongst disabled people by changing policy and public attitudes.
Labour wants to ensure rules to prevent exploitation of migrant workers, including making it a criminal offence to undercut wages.
The Lib Dems want to require large employers to publish their gender pay gap, and enact the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 which are not in force.
UKIP have pledged to “allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first”, which would effectively legalise what is currently race discrimination on the grounds of nationality.
The Greens aim to make equal pay between men and women “a reality”.
Labour plan to double paid paternity leave to four weeks.
The Lib Dems want to expand on shared parental leave by offering fathers an additional month on a “use it or lose it” basis, which cannot be transferred to the mother.