Implications for Employment Law post 2015 General Election
After a Conservative majority in the 2015 General Election; what does this potentially mean for Employment Law over the next 5 years? The Queen’s speech was delivered on 27 May 2015, which included several legislative proposals which effect employment law, including:
European Union Referendum Bill
- European Union Membership: with the promise to hold a referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU. Withdrawal from the EU or re-negotiation of membership has the potential to cause massive upheaval within employment law
Trade Unions Bill
- Industrial action: prevention of disruptive and unfair strike action through:
- Harsher thresholders for strike action, particularly amongst others in the health, fire and transport sectors.
- A time limit will be imposed to ensure that strike action cannot be brought based on ballots that were conducted too far in the past. For example, ballots must be less than 3 years old
- Non-striking workers: preventing intimidation
Finance Bill/National Insurance Contributions Bill
- National minimum wage: an increase to £6.70 by autumn 2015 and a potential further increase to over £8 per hour by the end 2020
- Tax-free personal allowance: anyone who earns less than £12,500 will no longer pay income tax through an increase in tax-free personal allowance
- Ensuring there are no increases in income tax rates, VAT rates and National Insurance contributions for employers, employees and individuals.
- Employment and families: free childcare will be increased to 30 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds of working parents
- Migrant workers: elimination of the exploitation of migrant workers
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
- Apprenticeships: creation of 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020
Other key pledges
- Zero hours contracts: the removal of exclusivity in zero hours contracts thus employees with zero hours contracts will be able to work for another employer as well as the employer they hold a zero hours contract with and employers cannot place a clause in the zero hours contract that states otherwise (an exclusivity clause). This will be done through the implementation of section 153 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
- Equality: changing public attitude, practice and policy with the aim to halve the disability employment gap and thus getting hundreds of thousands more disabled people into work
- Gender Equality: obliging companies with more than 250 employees to publish the disparity in average pay between male and female employees in order to promote full gender equality
- Fitness to work: assisting those with long-term conditions that are treatable (e.g. obesity) back into work by making certain that they receive the right medical treatment. Those who refuse treatment may have their benefits reduced.
- Fitness to work & mental health: support for those who are unable to work due to mental health problems