Over the last week, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives released their respective manifestos. However, both have proposed some extensive changes to the current employment laws and regulations. So, what do business owners and employers need to know?
Labour manifesto 2019
As promised, Labour has delivered a manifesto that represents significant changes to current employment law provisions. Andrew Willis, Head of Legal at employment law consultancy, Croner comments on some of the key changes and what this means for employers.
Many employers may be concerned about how a 32-hour week would work in practice for their organisation. However, I would caution them not to get too nervous just yet. The manifesto outlines that this would be introduced gradually over a decade; it is not something that will happen overnight. Some companies have seen success in adopting a four-day working week. However, it remains to be seen if this would feasibly work across all industries or if it has limitations in certain areas.
What is arguably more significant news for employers are the plans to prevent workers from opting out of the 48-hour working week. If introduced, this would cause issues for companies whose staff do work these additional hours, although we should remember that this would be unlikely to apply across all sectors. Indeed, many industries, such as the police, currently have separate provisions on working time
Workers Protection Agency
The establishment of a Workers Protection Agency is not new news and is something that Labour has been talking of for some time. It remains to be seen how such a body would operate in practice; however, what is certain is that employers will face increased accountability as a result. It will, therefore, be all the more important for them to make sure they are familiar with the legal expectations placed upon them.
The provision of ownership funds, we are told, will only apply to larger companies and therefore, many smaller businesses will not necessarily need to be concerned about this. However, firms who are eligible will need to restructure how they distribute pay in line with this new requirement.
It is also not surprising that Labour is going ahead with promises to ban zero-hours contracts. Again, if introduced, this will have significant implications for companies that make use of this arrangement, and they will need to provide stable hours going forward.
Remember that even a Labour victory does not mean that we would certainly not see all of these pledges happen in the space of a week. Overall, while this manifesto certainly gives us a lot to think about, employers will have some time to prepare for it. Should Labour win in December, employers would be wise to keep up to date on all legal developments going forward.
Conservative manifesto 2019
Yesterday, Boris Johnson launched the Conservatives election manifesto. Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at employment law consultancy Croner comments on the key employment law changes and what this means for employers.
As well as confirming it will continue with changes to the law that are already in the pipeline, such as neo-natal leave and extended redundancy protection for women who have recently had a child.
A few new measures have also been announced, which will benefit businesses of all sizes. Small businesses will welcome a tax cut in the shape of a higher Employment Allowance, and more flexibility in how to use the Apprenticeship Levy is a boost for larger ones.
Lower employer’s NI contributions for certain employees will also help the party’s cause with businesses, but an increase in employment rights may temper employers’ reaction to the manifesto. There will be more time off work for those with families and caring responsibilities which employers will have to manage.
Another significant inclusion in the manifesto is the plan to remove the current constraints on the right to request flexible working; employers will have to re-think their current workforce planning strategy to ensure the correct balance is struck between employees’ wishes and maintaining business operations.