The main parties' manifestos for the general election all contained numerous proposed employment law reforms, the Conservatives promising "the greatest expansion in workers' rights by any Conservative government in history" while Labour included a 20 point "plan for security and equality at work" proposing radical changes to the rights of individuals and strengthening the position of unions. The political uncertainty resulting from the outcome of the election means that it is now unclear which, if any, of these proposals will see the light of day. However, it may be helpful to those planning HR strategy to note the key areas featuring in all the main party manifestos, as these can perhaps be seen as the most likely to see change at some point. They include:
- changes to employment status and gig economy workers, with the Conservative manifesto committing to unspecified action to provide 'proper protection' once the Matthew Taylor report has been published, and Labour proposing the extension of employment rights to all workers regardless of employment status from day one, along with a ban on zero hours contracts;
- reporting on pay and diversity: the Conservative manifesto pledged to broaden disclosure rules on the gender pay gap to include more information, the suggestion being that the data would need to be broken down by age and job-grade, and also to 'ask' large employers to disclose their ethnicity pay gap. Labour also proposed pay audit requirements in order to close the ethnicity pay gap.
Other areas of reform proposed by the Conservatives include child bereavement leave, extending the right to request unpaid time off for training to all employees, one year's unpaid time off to care for sick relatives, and enhanced protection from discrimination for those with mental health problems. Labour proposed a much more radical reform programme including abolishing tribunal fees, enhancing pay for family leave, strengthening various aspects of equality law and a number of measures to enhance the position of unions (including repeal of the Trade Union Act 2016 and introduction of sectoral collective bargaining).
Due to the election, plans to reform the taxation of termination payments from April 2018 were temporarily put on hold, with the relevant provisions of the Finance Act 2017 being removed to enable it to be passed before the election. The government indicated that it would seek to reintroduce them at the earliest opportunity in the next Parliament.