by Hollie Whyman
With the General Election just days away, we take a look at what the main political parties have to say about employment policy and workers' rights.
The Conservative Party's manifesto promises to deliver a'major package of measures' designed to ensure it always pays to work, and to protect those who cannot work. The Conservative party pledge to build on existing employment law to ensure fairness in the workplace and protect those in low-paid work and the gig economy.
The party intends to create a single enforcement body to crack down on employers abusing employment law, whether by taking workers' tips or refusing them sick pay. Moreover, they promise to ensure that workers have the right to request a 'more predictable' contract. The Conservative Party have also outlined measures that balance the needs of employees and employers, including:
- Encouraging flexible working hours.
- a promise to legislate for extended leave for neonatal care and to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave.
- Extending the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to a week.
- Funding more high-quality childcare before and after school and during the holidays.
The Labour Party's 'Workers Rights' manifesto pledges to reduce in-work poverty by addressing the structural causes of inequality including low pay based on gender, disability or race discrimination. Labour pledge to bring about the 'biggest extension of workplace rights' that the UK has ever seen and to put in place measures that will create better working lives to help turn around poor productivity and encourage employers to think about the longer term rather than short-term profits. The manifesto's promises include:
- Creating a Ministry of Employment Rights to drive through plans to transform industrial relations in Britain through a huge roll out of individual and collective rights.
- Introduction of sectoral collective bargaining and the repeal of the Trade Union Act 2016.
- Strengthening rights of the self-employed including collective income protection insurance schemes and better access to mortgage and pension schemes.
- The introduction of a Real Living Wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 or over and above-inflation pay rises for the public sector.
- Giving workers greater rights to flexible working.
- A number of measures to give workers more security in their working hours include payment for cancelled shifts and ending zero hours contracts.
- Supporting a better work life balance and stronger family-friendly rights by introducing four new bank holidays and extending maternity leave to 12 months and paternity leave to four weeks.
- Reducing the average full-time working week to 32 hours within the decade with no loss of pay, funded by productivity increase.
- Large companies to create Inclusive Ownership Funds (IOFs) to give employees up to 10% stake with dividend payments distributed equally among all.
- Companies with 250 or more workers to reserve a third of the seats on boards and renumeration committees for workers.
- Full employment rights (including unfair dismissal, sick pay and parental) from day one on the job.
- Larger employers to be required to devise and enact plans to address gender pay gaps and wider pay inequalities; measures include fines, government gender equality certification and audits.
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrat Party's manifesto highlights a priority to provide people with a voice at work, while legislating for innovative business models to flourish in a modern economy. Their promises include:
- Establishing a new 'dependent contractor' status - a liminal position between employment and self-employment, and providing a set of rights (minimum earning levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement) to go along with it.
- Reviewing the tax and National Insurance status of employees, dependent contractors and freelancers, to level the field by ensuring fair and comparable treatment.
- A 20% higher minimum wage for those on zero hour contracts to counter the uncertainty of shifting hours and a right to request a fixed hours contract after 12 months, not to be unreasonably refused.
- An independent review of Living Wage across all sectors and ensure this is paid across all central government agencies, encouraging other public sectors to do likewise.
- Establish a new Worker Protection Authority to protect those in precarious work, and strengthen the rights afforded to unions so they are enabled to more effectively protect worker rights.
- Commitment to allowing flexible working from day one of a job.
- All UK-listed companies and private companies with over 250 employees to have at least one employee representative on their boards.
For further advice, or to discuss your employment matter, please contact Hollie Whyman.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.