UK: General Election 2017 And Employment: Clear Blue And Red Water

At 7am on Thursday 8 June, polling stations across the UK will open. Once more, rocky trestle tables and plywood booths will be set up in schools, church halls and community centres throughout the country. Millions will grasp stubby pencils attached by a length of string to make a mark and answer the question: 'who should govern us for the next five years'?

This is the fourth year in a row that people are being asked an important question about the future of the UK. With two referendums and two general elections since September 2014, it seems as though the psephological Groundhog Day is never ending.

How prominently do employment issues feature in an election overshadowed by Brexit and electoral realignment?

According to the main parties' manifestos, these issues are more prominent than you might think.

Sluggish wage growth, sclerotic living standards, rising inequality and increasing competition for working class votes have put workers' rights, taxation and pay high up the political agenda.

A more radical Labour Party ensures that there is clear blue (should that be red?) water between the main parties. Reflecting this, trade union rights attract far more attention in Labour's manifesto than they did in 2015.

To reflect the rising importance of the smaller parties, we've ploughed through six manifestos to see what the parties are offering for employers, savers and pensioners. There are some consistent themes, but the parties are offering materially different approaches to tackling the big issues.

We've outlined some of the key areas in this alert and focused on what the parties promise to do. We've also set out comprehensive coverage of the policies affecting employment and pensions in our Employment and Pensions Manifesto Commitments table.

What are the big themes?

There are several big themes that emerge from comparing the employment policy pledges of the main parties:

  • workers' rights and Brexit;
  • rebooting employment rights - ensuring employment law is fit for the gig economy;
  • family friendly employment policies;
  • moving towards a genuine living wage;
  • closing the pay gaps; and
  • educating for employment and lifelong learning.

WORKERS' RIGHTS AND BREXIT

All of the parties acknowledge the central role played by EU legislation in UK employment law. Whilst the parties differ in their approaches to Brexit, they all call for the protection of workers' rights.

This ranges from the lukewarm approach adopted by the Conservatives (workers' rights given by EU law will continue to be available at the point at which we leave the EU, but, thereafter, may be amended by parliament) to stronger pledges to avoid a 'race to the bottom' on employment rights (UKIP) and no rolling back of key rights and protections (Labour).

Labour goes one step further than the other parties in pledging to ensure that the UK does not lag behind Europe in workplace protection in the future.

What does this mean for employers?

There is unlikely to be any change to the UK's EU-derived employment law system for the duration of the next parliament. All of the main parties are committed to retaining the current set of workers' rights - at least until the UK formally leaves the EU.

If the Conservative Party win the election, there could be a push to reduce some of the regulatory burden after Brexit is delivered. This could, however, face opposition from the so-called 'blue-collar' Conservatives.

REBOOTING EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS - ENSURING EMPLOYMENT LAW IS FIT FOR THE GIG ECONOMY

Even before the announcement of the general election there was plenty of focus on employment law and the gig economy. The Taylor Review on employment practices in the modern economy was commissioned by Theresa May on 1 October 2016.

Cases involving Uber, CitySprint, Deliveroo and Pimlico Plumbers have placed the so-called 'gig economy' and self-employment status under the judicial microscope.

All of the parties except UKIP have manifesto commitments around the future economy and employment. The Conservatives await the results of the Taylor Review, but are committed to ensuring that the 'self-employed and those people working in the 'gig' economy are properly protected'.

The Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and SNP pledge to take steps to modernise employment rights. The Labour Party will do this via a dedicated commission set up to modernise the law around employment status, whilst the SNP seek to strengthen and roll out their Fair Work Convention across the rest of the UK.

The Green Party have the most radical approach on employment rights. They seek to phase in a four day working week with workers working a maximum of 35 hours a week.

What does this mean for employers?

Regardless of the outcome of the election, it seems inevitable that there will be a renewed focus on worker status, self-employment and the gig economy. It seems likely that the Taylor Review will be at the more pragmatic end of the spectrum with the SNP's Fair Work Convention representing a more radical approach.

Family friendly employment policies

Childcare and family leave are covered by all of the main parties.

The Conservative Party seek to build on childcare availability by introducing 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds of working parents who find it difficult to manage the cost of childcare.

The Labour Party and Liberal Democrats promise to go a step further, with provision for childcare for two years-olds and even some one-year olds.

The Labour Party promise to introduce a National Education Service, which is intended to integrate childcare into the broader education system. The Liberal Democrats have a long term ambition for 30 hours' free childcare a week for all parents with children aged from two to four years.

The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats focus on paternity leave, with both parties promising to increase paid paternity leave (from two weeks to four weeks under the Labour Party and six weeks under the Liberal Democrats). Labour would also extend maternity pay to cover the full period of maternity leave (i.e. increasing it from 39 months to one year).

The Conservative Party attracted headlines for its promise to introduce a new statutory right to unpaid time off for caring and also promised a new right to child bereavement leave. This was echoed by the Labour Party's pledge to consult on introducing statutory bereavement leave.

What does this mean for employers?

It seems that there is a consensus that more needs to be done to make family life and employment more compatible. It is likely that this will result in legislative developments to watch in the next parliament. None of these plans, however, amount to a fundamental change in the way that family leave works for employers.

MOVING TOWARDS A GENUINE LIVING WAGE

The idea of a living wage has become so mainstream that all of the main parties now support it. Problem solved? Not quite. This election sees the parties focus on how to set an appropriate level for the living wage.

For the Conservatives, this means 60% of median earnings by 2020. For Labour and the Green Party, it means Ł10 an hour by 2020. For the SNP, it means introducing a real living wage and for the Liberal Democrats, it means consulting on how to set a genuine living wage.

But there is a consistent theme across all of these policies that suggests that the National Living Wage will increase between now and 2020.

What does this mean for employers?

The National Living Wage will increase between now and 2020. It remains to be seen what it will increase to and whether it will be extended to cover all workers aged over 18.

EDUCATING FOR EMPLOYMENT AND LIFELONG LEARNING

The UK has both a skills shortage and a problem around productivity. It is, therefore, no surprise that many of the parties focus on education and training.

Whether it is the Conservative Party's T-Levels, the development of new vocationally focused institutes or colleges (as suggested by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats) or committing to revive Further Education colleges by investing in teachers and facilities (Labour), there is a recognition that technical and vocational education needs more investment.

Fostering a culture of lifelong learning is seen by many as being crucial if the UK is to meet the challenges of the next industrial revolution and tackle the productivity gap. The Conservative Party offer a new right for employees of any employer to request leave for training (this right already exists for those working for large employers). Labour will double-down on their commitment to Further Education colleges by using them to provide free, lifelong education to all at any point in life. The Liberal Democrats have similarly universal aspirations with plans for individual accounts to fund adult and part-time learning and training.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers are increasingly being seen as necessary partners in technical and vocational education. There are opportunities here for employers to shape the policy debate on skills and education to ensure that the country's schools, colleges, technical institutes and universities deliver the skilled workforce that they need.

On a practical level, a shift in emphasis towards promoting lifelong learning may see employers have to consider requests for training leave. Larger employers may need to consider policies that enable them to evaluate such requests.

DO THE PARTIES OFFER ANY OTHER EYE-CATCHING POLICIES ON EMPLOYMENT?

Trade unions

The Labour Party manifest contains a wide range of policies dealing with trade unions. This focus is not reflected by other parties. The Labour Party seek to roll back what they view as anti-trade union legislation. They would also utilise the heft of the public procurement budget to require businesses to meet standards on trade union recognition.

Corporate governance and employee representation

The Conservative Party will require listed companies to either:

  • 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.

This will be backed by a right to request information for employees of publically-listed companies.

Terminal illnesses

The Labour Party will make terminal illnesses a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Caste discrimination

The Liberal Democrats will outlaw caste discrimination.

Equal pay and pay gap reporting

The Scottish National Party will extend the scope of equal pay reporting, making such reports apply to employers with more than 150 employees (down from 250) and covering race and disability as well as gender. The Conservative Party will require companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the pay gap between men and women.

Pay ratios and executive pay

The Labour Party promise to roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector and in companies bidding for public contracts. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives go for a more restrained approach in requiring large or listed employers to report on the ratio between top and median pay levels.

Employment Tribunal fees

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party pledge to abolish Employment Tribunal fees. This is not covered in the Conservative, UKIP or Green Party manifestos.

New bank holidays

UKIP offer two new bank holidays for everyone in England and Wales. These will be on the St. George's Day in England and St. David's Day in Wales. The 23 June will be declared Independence Day and made a bank holiday.

Labour offer four new bank holidays for everyone, as each of the national patron saints' days will become a public holiday across the whole of the UK.

Manifesto table

You can see the full details of what each of the parties is promising on employment, and compare these commitments, in our comprehensive Employment and Pensions Manifesto Commitments table.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
28 Jun 2017, Webinar, Dublin, Ireland

Is your business thinking of moving out of London post Brexit? Are you considering France, Germany or Ireland?

What are the challenges of hiring, firing and managing staff in cities such as Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin?

13 Jul 2017, Seminar, London, UK

This seminar will provide an update on the key developments in patent litigation in the UK in life sciences in the last 12 months including an in-depth look at the FKB v AbbVie litigation and what that means for the life sciences sector.

 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.