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With Labour and Conservative manifestos now published, we take a look at some of the key proposals and consider their implications for employers.

Labour proposes wide ranging reforms to the workplace and employee rights. Their 20 point plan includes

  • abolishing Employment Tribunal fees
  • banning zero hour contracts
  • banning unpaid internships
  • shelving the Great Repeal Bill in order to preserve all EU rights post Brexit.

Labour have also promised to introduce statutory bereavement leave, double paternity leave from 2-4 weeks, increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour, bolster union powers and introduce 4 new paid Bank Holidays. There is a further proposal to set up a commission to modernise the law surrounding employment status following headline grabbing cases on the “gig” economy.

Labour also aspires to the introduction of higher corporation taxes and an excessive pay levy on companies with a large number of staff on high pay. Such measures, whilst perhaps laudable, have the potential to dampen business investment, exacerbating the productivity problem in the UK.

Labour have pledged, perhaps unwisely in the wake of the recent Conservative U-turn on the subject, not to raise National Insurance or VAT. Income Tax rises are however in store for those earning over £80,000 per year.

Labour lament the agenda of the ‘Tory Brexiteers’ who, it fears wish to leave the EU in order to attack and weaken workers’ rights. The Conservative manifesto has responded to the contrary however with plans to

  • force companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the pay gap between men and women
  • create a new entitlement to child bereavement leave
  • increase the living wage to 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020
  • a new statutory entitlement to carer’s leave
  • guarantee that workers will not lose any protections offered under EU law.

The Tory manifesto appears to be mindful of fears of a bonfire of employee rights and goes some way to the appeasing fears of workers. However, the Tory pledges have also been criticised by the British Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business as imposing additional burdens on ‘UK Ltd’, whilst the Conservative right have branded their party’s pledges as worthy of Ed Miliband. The Tory plans have even been cautiously welcomed by the Unions.

What’s clear is that, in the scramble to reassure ordinary working people, the two main political parties are not looking  to exploit  deregulation ‘wins’ from Brexit, instead we could see greater red tape and increased regulation in the workplace. It is also certain that, no matter who emerges victorious on 9 June, there will be more change to come for employers.

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.