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Employment issues and the General Election – what next?

With the General Election only a few days away Andrew Fishleigh looks at what might be in store for changes in the employment law arena from the 3 main parties with a short overview of the smaller parties’ manifestos.

The Conservatives are heralding a “flexible, effective and fair“ labour market with light touch policies. This will include stripping away the so called “gold plating” of EU directives, more effective use of sunset clauses which laws cease to have effect after a given date, and increasing the one –in, one-out principles which reduce regulation and red tape. The Tories will seek to continue reduced usage of Employment Tribunals and using ACAS as an alternative to litigation as well as increasing apprenticeship vacancies. They will also speed up justice in the criminal courts and new communications data legislation will strengthen the ability of authorities to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and child-grooming gangs.

Labour seek to create more secure high-paid, high-skill jobs by preventing undercutting of labour costs and lower wages and reversing the so-called “race to the bottom”. Labour will seek to ban zero hours contracts, take action to stop agency workers being used to undercut the wages of permanent employees, and raise the minimum wage to £8 per hour before 2020. They will also reform the Tribunal system to allow all workers access to justice by abolishing fees in Tribunals and via a Small Business Administration will seek to give help for small business. In the criminal law arena they will abolish Police and Crime Commissioners and replace cautions for low level crime with “payback orders”.

The Liberal Democrats’ main employment promises are to review the legal aid system and the current Tribunal fees structure which has caused a huge reduction in Tribunal claims and possibly denied many employees access to justice. They will seek to ensure zero hours contracts are fair and not abused by unscrupulous employers, and will seek to extend parental leave for fathers with a use it or lose it policy meaning it cannot be transferred to the mother.

Given the possibility of a hung Parliament with the SNP playing a role, it is notable that their employment policies UK wide have not been widely publicised. However, it of little surprise that they are “committed to creating jobs and opportunities for Scots old and new”.

The Greens are the only party who have pledged to reverse the legal aid cuts, promising to allow all individuals equality before the law. On a similar note the Greens also support civil liberties and in particular want to establish a Digital Bill of Rights.

Conversely, UKIP have no legal aid policy at all. However UKIP would reverse the current opt-in to EU law and justice measures, including the European arrest warrant, and severing the link with the European Court of Justice.

Finally, Plaid Cymru is seeking greater devolution of justice issues and the Welsh part also seeks to introduce a separate jurisdiction to codify the laws of Wales – so an end to the age old phrase “the laws of England and Wales” may be on the cards if they were to gain power.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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