What Can We Expect From Employment Law Under a Conservative Government

Jun 23, 2015
The last five years have seen a number of favourable employment law reforms under the coalition government including the introduction of shared parental leave and the extension of the right to request flexible working.

However, there have also been some more controversial reforms including the introduction of employment tribunal fees, the introduction of a new early conciliation process for tribunal claims and an increase to two years continuity of employment to be eligible to bring a claim for unfair dismissal. These reforms have reduced employee rights in favour of businesses in an effort to move the economy forward. However, arguably, they have also limited access to justice for employees. 

Following the result of the recent election what can we expect in the next five years
under a Conservative government?

Employment Tribunal Fees
There has been no indication that employment tribunal fees or the eligibility requirements to bring an unfair dismissal claim will be reviewed or reduced.

Zero-Hour Contracts
We shouldn’t expect to see any abolition of zero hours contracts (where employees are offered contracts with no guarantee of work and work only when required by an employer). However the Conservatives have promised to prohibit exclusivity clauses in such contracts which operate to prevent employees who are on zero hours contracts from working for other employers; meaning employees who are not guaranteed minimum hours through one employer can accept work from alternative employers. 

Equality in the Workplace
The Conservative government has pledged to introduce a law that requires large employers (with more than 250 employees) to publish the average pay of men and women within their company. 

The Conservative government has also pledged to make it more difficult for union members (in particular the health, education and transport sectors) to strike. 
They have indicated that they will impose a minimum requirement that at least 50% of union members vote in favour of strike action for any strike to be valid. 
On the other hand, in the public sector, at least 40% of those eligible to vote (not just those who vote) must vote in favour of strike action for a strike to be valid. 

National Minimum Wage
The Conservative government has agreed to increase the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to £6.70 by October 2015 and aims to increase this to £8.00 by 2020. They have also pledged to increase the income tax threshold to £12,500, to increase this in line with the NMW going forward and to encourage businesses to pay the Living Wage (£9.15 in London and £7.85 for the rest of the UK).

Family Life
The Conservative government also intends to make further positive changes to family life; introducing a pledge to increase free childcare to 30 hours per week for working parents with children aged between three and four. Large employers with over 250 employees will also be required to grant three days paid volunteering leave for employees to undertake voluntary activities. 

However the key area of uncertainty and concern in the coming years will be what effect the promised EU referendum will have on UK employment law. Given the number of employment law rights that stem from European legislation, the effect of a vote to opt out of the EU could have significant implications for UK employment law and could play a major role in the shaping of employment law reform in the years to come... Watch this space!

For more information on the changes to employment law, please contact a membber of our Employment Team on 01279 755777.

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