You’d be forgiven for tuning out politics at the moment, but we cannot escape the fact that there is a general election just around the corner in the UK, and employment laws are high on the agenda. As we get close to polling day, the Conservative’s lead in the polls remains, but it is looking a lot slimmer than it was a few weeks ago. So what does it mean for workers’ rights if the Conservatives remain in power or if Labour pulls off a shock win? The manifestos of the two leading parties are, perhaps unsurprisingly, vague on the details, but both are trumpeting their commitments to protect workers.
The Conservatives are focused on the “gig” economy and protecting workers in this new age of short-term engagements in a more flexible job market. There are also policy statements on increasing the minimum wage, gender equality and protections in the workplace for those suffering from mental health problems.
Labour’s proposals are more far-reaching. Some of the more notable include “giving all workers equal rights from day one.” Although details aren’t provided, this presumably means that employees would gain unfair dismissal and redundancy protections without needing the two years’ service required under the current law. The manifesto also focuses on misclassification of employees and independent contractors and extending rights to broader categories of workers. Labour would also eliminate fees for filing claims in the Employment Tribunals, which resulted in a drastic decline in employment litigation when they were introduced a few years ago.
But of course hanging over all of this is Brexit. The outcome of the Brexit negotiations will have a profound effect on the UK economy and any changes to employment laws will no doubt attempt to respond to the particular challenges that lie ahead. As is the case with just about everything Brexit-related, only time will tell.