As the dust settles on possibly the most surprising General Election result in living memory, we look at what this might mean for Employment law.
Of course we don’t yet know the outcome of any deal the Conservatives might make with the DUP, but it seems that as the largest party in Parliament, they will at least attempt to implement their manifesto by way of minority government. The lack of majority will make life difficult so the biggest impact of the election result might be that only policies with at least some cross party support will make it through Parliament.
Some of the key promises in the Conservative manifesto were:
- For the National Living Wage to rise in line with average earnings
The DUP support “continued increases” in the National Living Wage. Labour, the SNP and Greens want to see higher increases than the Conservatives pledge and both the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru want independent assessment to set a “genuine” (Lib Dems)/ “real” (Plaid) living wage. We will have to see whether pressure from the other parties lead to higher increases than we might otherwise have experienced.
- No change in employment rights as a result of leaving the EU
Without getting too technical, it is difficult to see how this promise fits with the Conservative and DUP pledges that the UK will no longer be bound by European Court of Justice decisions, as this would inevitably lead to UK and EU law diverging. It is thought that the election result could result in a softer Brexit, which might leave us accepting some European control over employment laws in return for greater access to the Single Market. The reliance on the DUP will bring Northern Irish interests to the fore and their desire for a “frictionless border” and “ease of trade” with the Irish Republic and the rest of the EU could significantly impact how Brexit is managed.
- New “protections” for gig economy workers
The nature of these proposed protections has yet to be published, and perhaps even decided. Labour are likely to push for as much regulation as possible: they want to extend employment rights to all “workers” and ban zero hours contracts. The need for cross party consensus could result in greater regulation than we might otherwise have seen.
The Conservatives’ 11 point plan for employment law also included a statutory right to request up to a year’s unpaid leave to care for a relative, a right to request leave for training, statutory child bereavement leave, worker representation on boards, a similar right to information for workers as that held by shareholders, greater protections for company pensions, changes to the Equality Act to make it easier for those with fluctuating mental health conditions to enjoy its protections and proposals for “returnships” for mothers seeking to rejoin the labour market. How many of those promises make it to the statute book could well depend on how long the minority government is able to last.
Louise Taft can be contacted on 020 7935 3522 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever your personal circumstances the above is only a guide and we would advise you to contact us to obtain definitive advice as you will appreciate that each person’s circumstances are unique to them.