The usual fast pace of change in employment law always tends to slow before a general election. However the unexpected Conservative majority, and recent Queen’s Speech, indicate that things are already returning to normal.
A majority government means that the employment law policy commitments are likely to be seen sooner rather than later and the main areas are as follows:-
- Zero hours contracts. These were always going to be a key area once the dust settled. The Conservatives are committed to greater guidance and transparency over the use of these contracts, but were not in favour of the more generous proposals akin to zero hours workers having similar rights to agency workers. Change has already begun in that exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts became unenforceable as of 26 May.
- Strikes and industrial action. Changes to the law regarding these have been proposed, key ones being voting thresholds and behaviour during industrial action. The most useful change in the conservative manifesto was the proposal to end the ban on using agency staff to cover for essential striking workers, but that was not dealt with in the recent Queen’s speech. Such a change would assist clients and agency businesses alike and we will keep you updated.
- Gender pay gap. Regulations dealing with this must be in place by April 2016 as a result of the change to legislation prior to the dissolution of Parliament. This is expected to mean that employers with more than 250 employees will have to reveal differences between the average pay of men and women; however this issue was championed by the Liberal Democrats with some conservative opposition.
- National Minimum Wage. An increase is expected to be above inflation rates;
- Voluntary Work. Employers who have more than 250 staff will be required to give them up to three paid days off per year to do voluntary work.
- Childcare Bill. The Queen’s speech confirmed that free childcare for eligible working parents of children aged three and four years old would be increased to 30 hours per week, for 38 weeks of the year which hopefully will assist businesses to balance flexible requests with workplace needs.
- Apprentices. A huge area of commitment, with three million new apprenticeships over the next five years set as the target.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.