Government reforms: Into the future – conservative party plans for hr/employment law

election-250What do we already know?

We updated you in our February 2015 Newsletter Government reforms: Election fever – focus on the future on what the main political parties were planning should they win the general election on 7 May 2015.

What’s new?

An unexpected (if you believed the various opinion polls) majority for the Conservative Party in the General Election on 7 May 2015, means that the focus for the future is firmly on that party and its proposals.

Given that much of our UK HR/employment comes from the EU the most significant change under the new Conservative Government could be the proposed in-out EU referendum which is due to take place by the end of 2017.

Also, if the Conservative party sticks to its manifesto promises then the future is likely to include the following:

  • Zero-hours contracts: Preventing the use of exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts, to ensure that such workers can undertake work for other employers. Also enhanced information and guidance to improve transparency over terms of zero-hours contracts and worker rights;
  • Industrial action: Significant changes to the existing rules on industrial action, including:
    • minimum voting threshold for a lawful ballot, likely to be 50% or more must vote in all ballots, additionally, in essential services (health, transport, fire and education), 40% of all eligible voters must vote in favour of strikes;
    • three month time limit after a ballot within which the strike action must take place;
    • minimum of 14 days’ notice of industrial action;
    • new rules to restrict picketing; and
    • removing the existing ban on the use of agency workers to cover striking employees.
  • Bill of Rights: Introducing a new British Bill of Rights, to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. The European Court of Human Rights would become an advisory body only.
  • Enhanced Redundancy Payments: Capping enhanced redundancy payments paid to public sector employees at £95,000.
  • Migrant Workers:
    • Implement the Modern Slavery Act requiring businesses to report on steps taken to be ‘slavery and trafficking free’, including in supply chains; and
    • Introduce “tougher labour market regulation” to tackle illegal working and exploitation.
  • Gender discrimination:
    • Companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish their gender pay gap information. This must be implemented by April 2016; and
    • Support for greater female representation on boards.
  • National minimum wage (NMW): Support an above-inflation rise in the NMW (if approved by the Low Pay Commission). This means the NMW is on course to increase to over £8 per hour by 2020. The Conservative Party will also support the Living Wage and will encourage businesses who can afford it to pay it.
  • Tribunal reform: Support the retention of fees, subject to the outcome of the judicial review appeal this year.
  • Volunteering leave: Entitlement to three days paid volunteering leave per year will be introduced for public sector employers and companies with more than 250 employees.