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What a Conservative majority means for the future of Employment Law

The votes have been cast, and after a long few months of petitioning and debates the Conservatives have come out on top. But what did their policy commitments say, and what does a Conservative majority mean for the future of employment law? Here are some of the key changes that have been suggested:

  • Closing the gender gap: Prior to the elections, measures were included in legislation that requires businesses with more than 250 employees to publish details of how they pay men and women. These measures must be implemented by April 2016, or companies will face financial penalties. The Conservatives have also backed female representation on boards. These procedures intended to close the gender pay gap, and improve equality in the workplace.
  • Zero hour contracts: The Conservatives intend to support the use of zero hour contracts within businesses. They intend to do this by clamping down on the use of exclusivity clauses. This will bring greater flexibility by allowing workers to enter contracts with more than one company. They also propose to support workers employed on zero hour contracts, by ensuring that there is greater transparency of the terms employed on, and a greater understanding of their rights.
  • Redundancy payments: They propose to cap redundancy payments for public sector employees to £95,000.
  • National minimum wage: They have presented the idea of not charging income tax to those working part-time (30 hours or less per week) and earning the national minimum wage. Discussions have also been held to raise the national minimum wage to reflect inflation, providing it is supported by the Low Pay Commission.
  • Employment tribunal fees: The main driver behind the increased tribunal fees is as a way to reduce the burden of unprosperous claims. They of course wish to maintain the retention of fees following the outcome of judicial review.
  • CSR: Volunteering leave must be introduced for all public sector employees and companies with more than 250 employees. This will allow all employees to request three days paid leave each year to undertake voluntary work.
  • Restrictions on the right to strike: The Conservatives propose to raise the bar and place further restrictions on calling strikes. For example, proposals have been made to only allow public sector workers to strike if 40% of all eligible union members support the ballot. This will make it much more difficult than the current requirement of achieving a simple majority. They also propose to lift the ban on using agency workers to provide essential cover during strike periods. This, combined with a 3 month time clock within which strikes must be called (from the moment when a ballot is held) and plans to curb picketing, could considerably weaken the effect of strikes.
  • Curbing exploitation: Proposals have been made to tackle corruption by requiring businesses to cleanse their supply chain of companies who are at risk of adopting practices of slavery and trafficking. They also plan to introduce tougher labour market regulations to confront illegal working and exploitation in the UK.
  • European Union referendum: The Conservatives have suggested that they intend to firstly renegotiate the UK's EU membership and secondly hold an in/out referendum by the end of 2017. Furthermore, they have advised that they intend to replace the Human Rights Act with the Bill of Rights. This could pose significant implications on the rights of employees.
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