The employment law landscape will of course be different depending on who succeeds at the polls on 6th May.
If they were to remain in Government, the Labour Party plan to enact the Equality Act, which received Royal Assent in April 2010. The Act would come into effect in October 2010. In addition, Labour plan to raise the minimum wage in line with any growth in earnings, as well as an increase in National Insurance contributions. They also plan to increase statutory paternity leave to one month from the current two weeks.
The Conservative Party have said that they would scrap the Equality Act and the Agency Workers Regulations. However, room for manoeuvre on the Agency Workers Regulations is limited because any incoming Government is required to implement the Agency Workers Directive before December 2011. In the longer term the Conservative aim is to regain full domestic control of social and employment policy. They might change some of the details of the Labour government’s family-friendly legislation, but have said that they support the principle of enabling working fathers to take a more active part in caring for their children.
The Liberal Democrats have stated that they are going to scrap the age differentials in the current National Minimum Wage system, and also that they will introduce a job application system for employers with over 100 employees where names are omitted from applications, to try to deal with discrimination.
All three of the main parties have committed to abolishing the national default retirement age of 65, although only the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have specifically promised it will be ended outright, with no detail provided on how they would achieve this. All three agree that the right to request flexible working should be extended, but they differ on who should benefit.
Of course, in the current market, the fiscal measures of any new government are likely to have the biggest impact on employers rather than the changes to employment policy. We will provide full updates on any employment law changes as soon as they are announced.