Employment Update for Small Businesses
Are you fed up with the Election yet? I hope not, because this month we take a look at what some of the political parties are saying about their plans for employment law in the brave new world after 8th June. As my target audience is in England, I have not commented on the parties from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and I have tried to be even-handed in my presentation of the information as I am sure my audience is very mixed, politically speaking! (Can you guess who I will vote for?)
Whilst writing, I would also like to let you know that I am once again participating in the Pork Pie Pedal this year, on 1st July. I will send out a separate message in a few weeks asking for sponsorship, as we are again trying to raise money for some very good causes. If you are able to sponsor a small amount (a few pounds would be wonderful), then that would be great but of course there is no pressure. Or perhaps you would like to participate on the day – in which case you can register on the Pork Pie Pedal website.
Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.
Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.
Employment Considerations in the General Election
What are the parties saying about employment law and workers’ rights?
Labour’s manifesto includes a commitment to scrap employment tribunal fees, which were introduced under the coalition government and have been largely responsible for an enormous drop in the number of claims. Also, they intend to give all workers “equal rights from day one, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent” and to ban zero hours contracts. Labour also promises to bring in four extra bank holidays to mark each of the country’s patron saints’ days which would be in addition to the current statutory holiday entitlement of 28 days per annum. Under Labour, trade union rights would also be extended with the roll out of “sectoral collective bargaining” and a right for union reps to access workplaces to speak to members and potential members.
The Conservatives would ensure that the “voice” of the workers is heard on company boards. They include a commitment to ensure that the interests of those on the so-called ‘gig’ economy would be “properly protected” without giving any further detail.
The Liberal Democrats would also scrap tribunal fees, and introduce the right for those on zero hours contracts to ask for a contract with fixed hours after a certain period of employment.
The Green Party would “abolish exploitative zero hours contracts”.
UKIP would “protect workers’ rights” post Brexit.
The Conservatives would ensure the Living Wage rises to 60% of median average earnings (around £8.75 per hour) by 2020, and then rise further to match median average earnings.
Labour and the Green Party have both committed to raising the Living Wage to around £10 per hour by 2020. The Greens would also introduce a 4 day working week and Labour would ban unpaid internships.
The Liberal Democrats do not include any promise to increase the established Minimum and Living Wages, but they would “establish an independent review to consult on how to set a genuine Living Wage across all sectors”. That Living Wage would then be paid in central government departments, and other public sector employers would be “encouraged” to pay it, with larger employers being obliged to report on those paid less than that level in their own organisations.
UKIP promise only to “enforce the minimum and living wage…”
Family Friendly Rights
The Liberal Democrats have promised to extend shared parental leave by an extra month. Also, they would provide for paternity leave, shared parental leave and the right to request flexible working to be available from day one of employment (currently employees need 6 months’ service to qualify).
Labour would increase paternity leave from two weeks to four weeks, and increase the level of paternity pay.
The Conservatives would introduce a statutory right to a year’s unpaid care leave, and “take steps to improve take-up of shared parental leave…” (which has proved extremely unpopular since it was introduced 2 years ago).
National Minimum and Living Wage Rates
The current rates for the National Living Wage (for those aged 25 and over) and the National Minimum Wage are as follows:
£7.50 per hour for workers aged 25 and over
£7.05 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24
£5.60 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20
£4.05 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17
£3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*
*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.