Labour and the Conservatives both put employee and worker issues at the centre of their manifesto promises. We take a look at what the two main parties have stated.

Facts

The Conservatives have said that they will:

  • EU rights post-Brexit

    • Protect all workers' rights derived from EU law. There is no mention of measures that will be amended or repealed as a result of exiting the EU.

    • Retain the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway, but consider the human rights legal framework when the process is concluded.

  • National Living Wage:

    • In line with current targets, increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 and then by the rate of median earnings, so that people who are on the lowest pay benefit from the same improvements as higher paid earners.

  • Executive Pay

    • Legislate to make executive pay packages in listed companies subject to strict annual votes by shareholders.

    • Make listed companies publish the ratio of executive pay to broader UK workforce pay and explain pay policies better.

    • Commission an examination of the use of share buybacks.

  • Disability and mental health:

    • Reform out-dated laws to make sure that those with mental illness are treated fairly and that employers fulfil their responsibilities effectively.

    • Amend health and safety regulations so that employers provide appropriate first aid training and needs-assessment for mental health.

    • Extend Equality Act protections against discrimination to mental health conditions that are episodic and fluctuating.

    • Work with employers to encourage new products and incentives to improve the mental health and wellbeing support available to their employees.

    • Get one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next ten years, making use of the digital economy and flexible working.

  • Pay gap: Take measures to close the gender pay gap, by requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the pay gap between men and women.

  • Public appointments and board positions for women: Continue to work for parity in the number of public appointments going to women and push for an increase in the number of women sitting on boards.

  • Family friendly:

    • Take steps to improve take up of shared parental leave and help companies provide more flexible work environments that help mothers and fathers to share parenting.

    • Help those who have been caring for children or elderly relatives for a long time and support companies to take on parents and carers returning to work.

    • Introduce a new right to time off to care for sick relatives.

    • Introduce a right to time away from work on the death of a child.

  • Racial equality:

    • Act on the findings of the report commissioned by Teresa May into racial disparity across public services.

    • Replicate the gender pay gap reporting regime to oblige employers to publish pay data broken down by ethnicity.

  • Employee representation at board level and provision of information to employees:

    • Require listed companies either to nominate a director from the workforce, create a formal employee advisory council, or assign specific responsibility for employee representation to a designated non-executive director.

    • Introduce, subject to sensible safeguards, a right for employees in listed companies to request information relating to the future direction of the company.

  • Training:

    • Introduce a new right to request unpaid time off for training for all employees, extending this from the current right applicable to employers of over 250 employees.

    • In the public sector, promote training so that workers are not held back from promotions because of their prior educational attainment. This would form part of a programme of career learning to help workers develop skills in their existing jobs.

  • Gig economy: Ensure that people working in the "gig" economy are properly protected, acting on the Matthew Taylor report on the changing labour market to ensure that the interests of employees on traditional contracts, the self-employed and those people working in the "gig" economy are properly protected.

  • Modern Slavery: review the application of exploitation in the Modern Slavery Act, focussing on the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children for their labour.

  • Increasing the Immigration Skills Charge: the Immigration Skills Charge, which is levied on companies employing migrant workers, would be increased from £1,000 to £2,000 a year, with the revenue being used to invest in higher level skill training for domestic workers.

  • Occupational Pensions Schemes: give the Pensions Regulator new powers to scrutinise acquisitions that could have an impact on the sustainability of a pension fund, and to issue punitive fines for those found to have wilfully left a pension scheme under-resourced and, if necessary, powers to disqualify the company directors in question.

Labour has said that it will:

  • EU rights post-Brexit

    • Ensure all rights (including employment rights) guaranteed under EU law are protected after Brexit, introducing legislation that will guarantee all existing protections afforded under EU law.

  • Pay:

    • Increase the National Minimum Wage to the level of the National Living Wage (expected to be £10 per hour by 2020).

    • Crack down on employers that refuse to pay the National Minimum Wage.

    • Introduce an "excessive pay levy" on salaries above £330,000.

    • End the 1% pay cap in public sector organisations.

    • Impose a maximum pay ratio between the best and worst paid of 20 to one in the public sector and in companies bidding for public-sector contracts.

    • Close the ethnicity gap by introducing equal pay audit requirements on large employers.

  • Zero and short hours contracts:

    • Ban zero hour contracts to ensure that every worker receives a guaranteed number of hours a week.

    • Legislate against short hours contracts so that workers who work "regular hours" for more than 12 weeks have the opportunity to swap to a "regular contract".

  • Employment rights and status:Gender pay gap: introduce an independent body to ensure compliance with the gender pay gap reporting obligations.

    • Give all "workers" equal rights irrespective of their employment status. Proposed ways of achieving this include shifting the burden of proof, so that workers are assumed to be employees unless the "employer" can prove the contrary.

    • Give all workers equal rights from day one. This presumably includes removing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal rights, but the manifesto does not spell this out.

  • Work and families:

    • Increase the scope of free childcare to include all two year olds and consult in increasing the scope for all one year olds.

    • Increase the rate of paternity pay.

    • Double statutory paternity leave from two weeks to four.

    • Introduce four new bank holidays.

    • Extend the period of maternity pay to twelve months.

    • Introduce legislation on statutory bereavement.

    • Extend the time period for employees lodging a maternity related claim from three to six months.

  • Equality and human rights:Employment Tribunal fees: Abolish employment tribunal fees.

    • Appoint women to 50% of its cabinet positions.

    • Strengthen the rights of women from being unfairly made redundant to avoid them being penalised for having children.

    • Enhance the Equality Act to make it easier for disabled workers to challenge discrimination at work.

    • Gender audit all proposed legislation and policy to assess its impact on women before writing it into law.

    • Reform legislation to better protect transgender people.

    • Improve the ethnic diversity of UK boards.

    • Preserve the Human Rights Act and look to reforming the European Court of Human Rights to ensure all can gain access to justice.

  • Migrant workers:

    • Work with trade unions on rules to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers.

    • Introduce legislation to limit employers that have an overseas-only recruitment policy;

    • Work with business leaders to ensure that the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act are fully respected.

  • Apprenticeship:

    • Keep the apprenticeship levy, but ring-fence funding for small and medium sized businesses which do not pay the levy.

    • Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022.

    • Introduce new targets to make apprenticeships more accessible, including to those with disabilities, veterans and women.

  • Trade Unions and Blacklisting

    • Repeal the Trade Union Act 2016.

    • Introduce sectoral collective bargaining.

    • Give all workers the right to receive union representation.

    • Guarantee all unions access to the workplace to speak to current and recruit new members.

    • Only award public contracts to employers that recognise unions in the workplace.

    • Consult and introduce legislation for the introduction of electronic balloting for industrial action.

    • Launch a public enquiry into blacklisting.

  • Other reforms:

    • Amend the takeover code to ensure that workers are protected during M & A transactions.

    • Reform TUPE to protect worker's rights.

    • Make employees the "buyer of first refusal when the company they work for is up for sale".

    • Develop company law so that directors owe a duty directly to other entities, including employees.

    • Abolish unpaid internships.

    • Reinstate liability on employers for third party harassment, which was repealed from the Equality Act in 2013.

What does this mean for employers?

Both parties (particularly Labour) are promising significant changes to workers' rights. The manifestos (unsurprisingly) contain little detail about how these commitments would be achieved.