What has the election done for employee rights?
The hung parliament result we have all been talking about means that it is difficult to assess the extent to which the Conservatives’ plans for employment law reform will come to fruition.However, the manifesto was full of promises, some of which would have left employers a little concerned.
Theresa May promised "the greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in history".And she has confirmed that all workers’ rights that derive from EU law will be protected after Brexit.
So, what are the key areas to watch out for?
Whilst the UK will remain a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights for the duration of the new Parliament, the plan is to thoroughly review the Human Rights legislation; many consider it to be too protective of employees’ rights and the review should be good news for employers.
It is proposed that the National Living Wage will reach 60% of average earnings by 2020 and then continue at that level.
The Tories also want to introduce employee representation at listed company board level and to give employees the right to request information concerning the future strategy of the company.This will, of course, need to be balanced with the need for commercial confidentiality.Another connected initiative is to curb executive pay by making pay packages subject to annual review by shareholders.
The manifesto promises employees the right to request unpaid time off for training, taking care of sick relative (up to 52 weeks) and in the event of child bereavement.
There is also mention of expanding protection for employees in relation to occupational pension schemes.
The need for a review of the Equality Act is highlighted.The proposal is to extend the protection against disability discrimination to mental health conditions that are "episodic and fluctuating" and not covered at present.
Another expected change is that gender pay gap reporting will be extended to smaller businesses and a new mandatory reporting requirement introduced for large employers in relation to the "race gap" in a bid to tackle the pay differentials between people from different racial backgrounds.
The Immigration Skills Charge is also likely to increase from £1,000 to £2,000 per year for companies employing migrant workers.
Surprisingly, the manifesto makes no mention of the highly controversial employment tribunal fees, despite heavy criticism by the House of Commons Justice Committee and the Law Society.The widespread complaint is that Tribunal fees have reduced access to justice and this is a major issue which needs addressing.
So, the employment law consequences of the election are somewhat uncertain at the moment, particularly with the Brexit process under way but the above areas are where we might see some change. And generally the change is unlikely to be what business wants to see.
For advice on Employment Law issues, please contact Richard Gvero, Joint Senior Partner and Head of Employment.
Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.