Manifest Differences? Election employment pledges from the main parties

A general election will be held on 8 June, which many political commentators are calling the most important election for a generation. The three main parties have now published their manifestos and these all contain some significant proposals regarding workers’ rights.

We consider the main implications for employment law below.

The Conservative Party

The Conservative manifesto pledges the following:

  • Workers will continue to enjoy the same EU-derived rights after Brexit. The manifesto does not mention any measures that will be amended or repealed once the UK leaves the EU.
  • In an attempt to improve worker representation, proposed legislation would force listed companies to either nominate a board director from the workforce, create an employee council, or assign specific responsibility for employee representation to a non-executive director.
  • Executive pay within companies will be subject to an annual vote by shareholders.
  • A statutory right for all employees to request unpaid time off for training.
  • Employees will be able to take up to 52 weeks unpaid leave to care for family members requiring full-time help. Child bereavement leave will also be introduced.

The Labour Party

Labour’s manifesto commits to:

  • Ensuring all workers’ rights guaranteed under EU law are protected after the UK exits the EU.
  • Reconsidering the 2014 changes to ‘TUPE’ which Labour believes weakened protections for workers transferring between employers.
  • Limiting zero-hours contracts to ensure those working regular hours have the opportunity to switch to a “regular contract”.
  • A statutory definition of “self-employed”, “worker” and “employee” will be created. The burden of proving a staff member is not an employee would shift from the worker to the employer.
  • Paternity leave would be doubled to 4 weeks and maternity pay would be extended from 39 to 52 weeks. Four new bank holidays are also proposed.
  • Give all workers the same employment rights from day one. Consultation on reforming redundancy pay and rights will take place with unions and industry.
  • Employment tribunal fees to be abolished.

The Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dem’s policy programme includes the following key commitments:

  • A second EU referendum will be called, giving the option of accepting the final deal from Brussels or remaining within the EU.
  • The UK to remain a member of the Single Market and Customs Union were it to leave the EU, meaning freedom of goods and people would be retained.
  • Build on gender pay reporting by extending the obligation to publish data on BAME and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
  • Make flexible working, paternity leave and shared parental leave “day one” rights.
  • Create a right for workers to request a fixed-term contract, aimed at ending abuse of zero-hours contracts. A proposal to make regular patterns of work a contractual entitlement would be consulted on.
  • Employment tribunal fees to be abolished.

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