Yesterday may have yielded a slightly unexpected result, but at least it provides some certainty. With a majority Conservative Government we will have a clear idea on the plans they will be hoping to put through Parliament in the next five years. However the Minister for State for Employment, Esther McVey, will not be returning, having lost her seat in Wirral West by 400 votes, and therefore we await the decision of the new Minister to shape policy and legislation for the future.
The Conservative’s manifesto made a specific pledge to increase the minimum wage to £6.70 by Autumn 2015 and to ‘over £8’ by the end of the decade. There is also a pledge to resource the enforcement of National Minimum Wage rules and continue to support the ‘Living wage’ initiative. However there is nothing specifically promised about implementing a ‘Living Wage’.
There will be a pledge increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £12,500 in earnings. You will also not be surprised to hear that there are no policies aimed at capping higher earners or increasing taxation of higher earners. As by way of benefits for working families, the Conservatives will increase the entitlement to free childcare to 30 hours for all three and four year olds of working parents
There is a commitment to a review on zero hours contracts and that their use will be restricted to prevent exclusivity. There is a specific pledge to ‘halve the disability employment gap’ by ensuring disabled people who can and want to be in work can find appropriate employment. There is also a pledge to tackle issues in relation to the controls on industrial action, including clearer balloting rules and the ability to bring in agency staff to ‘back fill’ during a strike.
The Conservatives have also re-emphasised the successful reform of the Tribunal system which, in turn, is reducing the burden of employment law on businesses. Therefore in relation to the enforcement of employment law there is very little change and the landscape of Tribunal fees is here to stay.
As a final note, perhaps one for us lawyers, the Conservative manifesto has also pledged to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and sever the ties with the European Court of Human Rights on enforcing Human Rights. The plan is to replace it with a Bill of Rights that is only enforceable in the UK’s Supreme Court.
No doubt more concrete policies and proposals will emerge and we will keep you updated.