Summaries of each political party's employment policies

Summaries of each political party's employment policies

Published:

Author: Katie Marsden

Applies to: England and Wales

Employers face an uncertain few months as the general election on 7 May 2015 will inevitably result in a change to the political landscape.

With the race to number 10 closer than ever and the possible coalition government an unknown quantity what does the future hold for employment law?

Unlike in some policy areas, there is clear blue water between the parties' positions on issues such as Employment Tribunal Fees and the National Minimum Wage. Although the outcome on 7 May 2015 is politically uncertain some changes to employment law over the next 5 years seem inevitable.

To give a helping hand of the key employment policies of each political party we have summarised each of the parties' positions below.

National Minimum Wage

Conservative

  • Increase minimum wage to £6.70 by the autumn and to £8 by the end of the decade (2020). Raise the tax free Personal Allowance so that those working 30 hours on the Minimum Wage pay no Income Tax at all.

Labour

  • Raise minimum wage to more than £8 by October 2019. Use procurement incentives to promote the living wage. Direct publicly listed companies to report on whether they pay the living wage. Increase NWM fines and enforcement.

Liberal Democrats

  • Recommendation to the Low Pay Commission to increase minimum wage for apprentices in their first year of apprenticeship by over £1.
  • Improve enforcement action in relation to the National Minimum Wage and instruct the Low Pay Commission to consider ways of increasing the National Minimum Wage.
  • Introduce a single National Minimum Wage for 16 to 17 year olds in work and first year of apprenticeships.
  • All central government departments and agencies to pay the Living Wage from April 2016.

Green

  • Increase the minimum wage to a living wage of at least £10.

UKIP

  • Does not agree with increasing minimum wage. However - proposal to take those on minimum wage out of tax altogether.

Zero Hours Contract

Conservative

  • Ban use of exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts.

Labour

  • Ban on exploitative Zero-hours contracts.
  • Introduce the right to a regular contract for zero hours workers who work regular hours for more than a 12 week period.
  • Introduce compensation to be paid to employers for zero hours workers whose shifts are cancelled at short notice.

Liberal Democrats

  • Consult on allowing employees on zero-hours contracts to request a fixed contract and introduce a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.

Green

  • End exploitative zero-hours contracts.

UKIP

  • End of abuse of zero-hours contracts
  • Qualifying zero hours workers at large employers would be offered contractual fixed hours.
  • Introduce a Code of Conduct for the use of zero hours contracts.

Family Friendly Policies

Conservative

  • Potentially adding maternity pay for self-employed mothers (details awaited).

Labour

  • Double the amount of paid paternity leave to four weeks and increase the level of pay.
  • Increase paternity pay by more than £100 a week.
  • Strengthen laws relating to maternity discrimination.

Liberal Democrats

  • Extend paternity leave to 6 weeks.
  • Expanding shared parental leave with a 'use it or lose it' month for fathers.
  • Consultation on introducing 5 days paid additional care leave a year for carers who qualify for the carer's allowance.

Green

  • Ensure that parents would receive much increased Child Benefit from 2016.

UKIP

  • Maintain current maternity and paternity rights.
  • More support for carers in UK by providing additional five-day leave entitlement

Immigration

Conservative

  • Removal of migrants who have failed to find work after 6 months. Bring immigration down year on year.

Labour

  • Stronger border controls. Employment agencies who only recruit from abroad will be banned. Fines for employing illegal immigrants increased.
  • Making it a criminal offence to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers.

Liberal Democrats

  • All new claimants of Jobseekers Allowance will have English language skills assessed. EU migrants to 'earn' their entitlement to benefits.

Green

  • Reduce UK immigration controls. Migrants in UK illegally for over 5 years will be allowed to remain.

UKIP

  • Introduce Australian style points policy - based upon skills and attributes. Bring immigration down year on year.

Employment Tribunal

Conservative

No change (keep current fee structure in place).

Labour

  • Abolish the employment tribunal fee system as a part of the wider reforms to make sure that affordability is not a barrier to access to justice, employers get a quicker resolution and the costs to taxpayers do not rise.

Liberal Democrats

  • Review of employment tribunal fees, to ensure that they are not a barrier.

Green

  • Reduce employment tribunal fees to make them accessible to workers.

UKIP

  • No plans outlined.

Pay/ Gender pay gap

Conservative

  • Require companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees.

Labour

  • Commitment to ensuring equal pay for men and women. Companies with more than 250 employees would have to publish average pay of men and women at each grade.
  • Require large companies to publish their gender pay gap.

Liberal Democrats

  • Proposal of requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish average pay of men and women at each grade.

Green

  • Introduce a maximum pay gap scale between top and bottom pay in all organsiations.

UKIP

  • No plans outlined.

Apprenticeships/creation of jobs

Conservative

  • Creating 3 million apprenticeships to be paid for by benefit cuts.

Labour

  • Guarantee jobs for under 25s unemployed for over a year and adults unemployed for more than 2 years. As many young people in apprenticeships as university by 2025.
  • Guarantee apprenticeships for 18 year olds with the correct grades and requiring every firm that wins a large government contract to provide apprenticeships.

Liberal Democrats

  • Recommendation to the Low Pay Commission to increase minimum wage for apprentices in their first year of apprenticeship by over £1.
  • Expansion of high quality and advanced apprenticeships, offering vocational education on par with academic qualifications wherever possible.

Green

  • National energy conservation scheme to create thousands of new jobs.

UKIP

  • Allow firms to offer jobs to British workers first.

Childcare

Conservative

  • Introduce 15 hours of "free" childcare for parents of three- and four-year-olds who have not started school, for 38 weeks of the year.
  • Parents will be able to claim back up to £2,000 a year in costs per child. For every 80p families pay, the Government will put in 20p up to a £10,000 annual limit. Will replace employer-supported childcare vouchers.

Labour

  • Pledge to extend the amount of "free" childcare for three- and four-year-olds from 15 to 25 hours a week at a cost of £800 million annually.

Liberal Democrats

  • Expand free childcare for various categories of working parents.

Green

  • Extend the hours of nursery entitlement for three and four-year-olds, as well as giving parents "as much flexibility as possible in terms of times and locations" and encouraging "occasional ad hoc care"

UKIP

  • Honour existing childcare voucher and tax-free childcare schemes
  • Extend these existing schemes to informal, non-Ofsted registered childminders

Other

Conservative

  • Taking steps to ensure those suffering from long term but treatable conditions back into work.
  • Tightening up the rules on strike action.

Labour

  • Review the TUPE Regulations.
  • Tackle unpaid internships.

Liberal Democrats

  • Protect the rights of trade union members to have their subscription, including political levies, deducted from their salary.
  • Introduce a new Workers Rights Agency to improve the enforcement of employment rights.
  • Introduce "Name Blank" application forms for public sector jobs.

Green

  • Nothing else to note.

UKIP

  • Repeal the Agency Workers Directive.
  • Allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first.

As the political pundits say, 'it's too close to call' and employers need to make the most of this relatively quiet period as it is likely to be the calm before the storm of further upheaval in employment law - whoever the eventual victors on 7 May.

Disclaimer

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

About the Author

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Katie Marsden

Solicitor

03700 86 5808

Katie joined Shoosmiths as a Solicitor in October 2014. She advises on all areas of employment law, negotiating settlement agreements for employees and employers, dealing with tribunal claims and advising employers on HR issues such as disciplinaries and grievances and drafting of employment contracts and handbooks.

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