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Posted 2 June 2017
by Stephen Jennings

General Election 2017 – Who Promises What for Employment Law?

Next week UK voters will take to the polls in the 2017 general election. Much publicity has surrounded the parties’ manifestos, but what changes do the three main parties in England intend to make to employment law?

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party claims its ‘Forward Together’ manifesto reflects the changing economy. Key employment law policies contained in the manifesto include:

  • Guaranteeing EU workers’ rights post-Brexit
  • National Living Wage will continue to increase
  • A review of the “gig economy”
  • Introduce a new right for employees to request leave for training
  • Introduce a right to request unpaid time off to care for sick relatives
  • Additional rights for those returning to the workplace after being on leave to look after children or elderly relatives
  • Extra powers to the Pensions Regulator to protect occupational pension schemes
  • Increase the Immigration Skills Charge, which is levied on companies employing migrant workers
  • Executive pay packages to be subject to annual shareholder votes.

Labour Party

The Labour Party claims its manifesto is ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ and sets out a 20-point plan on workers’ rights. Key employment policies include:

  • Employment rights currently guaranteed under EU law are protected after Brexit
  • Ensure all employers recruiting workers from abroad do not undercut British workers
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees
  • Abolish zero-hours contracts – suggesting all employees are given some guaranteed work each week
  • Introducing four new bank holidays to commemorate the four patron saints of the UK
  • An end to unpaid internships
  • Make all employment rights active from ‘day one’ and extend them to workers as well as employees
  • Increase the National Living Wage to at least £10 per hour by 2020 for all workers aged over 18
  • A right to trade union representation for all workers
  • Increase paid paternity leave from two weeks to four weeks
  • Repeal the controversial Trade Union Act 2016

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are seeking to ‘Change Britain’s Future’ and achieve a sustainable economy. Their manifesto sets out the following key employment policies:

  • Unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of existing EU nationals in the UK and attempting to secure the same rights for UK citizens elsewhere in the EU
  • Additional paternity leave
  • Make the right to flexible working, paternity and shared parental leave available from day one of employment
  • Tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts and introduce a right for workers to request a fixed-term contract
  • Extend discrimination law to protect gender identity and expression, not merely gender reassignment
  • Require larger employers to publish data on the number of workers earning less than the living wage, and the ratio between top and median pay.

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About the author

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor

Partner in the litigation department specialising in employment law, he is the relationship manager for many of the firm's employment clients