Promises, promises…

Thursday February 2, 2017

This week has seen the launch of party manifestos for the general election. Each setting out their promises to the electorate and their vision for the future of Britain.

Unsurprisingly, there have been many pledges and speeches addressing British business and the workplace, but what big promises have the (national) parties made so far? And what might this mean for you as an employer?

Side-stepping the issues around Europe and a referendum, here are just a selection (by no means an exhaustive list!) of the policies revealed so far:

National Minimum Wage

  • The Green Party would turn the national minimum wage into a living wage.
  • The Conservatives have said that they would raise the NMW to £7.
  • Labour would increase the NMW to £8 per hour by 2020.
  • Labour would introduce increased fines for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage, and a tax rebate to employers who sign up to pay the living wage in 2015.
  • The Liberal Democrats would introduce a single national minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds in work and first year of apprentices. And a national minimum wage enforcement section would be introduced to HM Revenue and Customs.

Paternity Leave

  • The Liberal Democrats have promised to extend paternity leave to six weeks.
  • Labour would double statutory paternity leave and pay.

Workers’ rights

  • UKIP want businesses to be given the right to discriminate in favour of young British workers.
  • Labour have stated that they would crack down on Zero Hours Contracts (other parties have indicated they would make changes too).
  • The Conservatives have pledged to increase restrictions on Trade Unions.
  • The Liberal Democrats would introduce a new “Workers’ Rights Agency”.
  • The Green Party pledge to protect the pay, conditions and status of workers in health and education.
  • UKIP would repeal the Agency Workers Directive.
  • The Conservatives have promised paid volunteering leave for employees.

And what about Employment Tribunal Fees?

  • The Conservatives: would keep the current system.
  • Labour would abolish the employment tribunal fees system.
  • The Liberal Democrats have pledged to review fees to ensure they are not a barrier to justice.
  • The Green Party would reduce employment tribunal fees to make them accessible to workers.

No doubt all of this leaves your head spinning, and that is before the considerations and negotiations of a possible hung Parliament!

With the election hotting up, the political classes have wasted no time in hurling abuse at one another. If the so-called political elite can’t keep the debate civil, can it be done any better in the workplace? Maybe not, so read our newsletter for some ideas of how to deal with politics in the workplace here.

Why not consider how you will encourage and facilitate your employees being active citizens by using their vote? If your local school is being used as a polling station will your staff require time off? It might be a good idea to start planning soon.

Whoever walks into Number 10 after May 7th, you can be assured that The HR Dept will make sure your business remains legally compliant and protected.

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