What will the new Tory government mean for employment law?
20 December 2019
Following the decisive Conservative victory in last week’s General Election, we thought it would be helpful to look at what they have committed to do from an employment law point of view, both in their manifesto and in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week.
- In their manifesto, the Tories said they would encourage flexible working and consult on making it the default unless employers “have good reason not to”. They also said they would explore ways to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave, and pledged to legislate to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care. In the Queen’s Speech the provisions were not quite as specific, stating only that “measures will be brought forward to encourage flexible working, to introduce the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers and to help people save for later life.”
- Boris Johnson has promised a “modern, fair, points-based immigration system [which] will welcome skilled workers from across the world to contribute to the United Kingdom’s economy, communities and public service.” It is not yet clear what this will mean in practice.
- He also previously promised to “review IR35” but as the forthcoming changes are due to take effect in April 2020, there is not much time for this. Some have called for him to put the changes on hold, but there has been no news on this yet.
- As we have covered in our article here, there was discussion prior to the election about a potentially making it compulsory for employers to provide references.
- One of the other key pledges made by the Conservatives was to raise the national living wage to £10.50 per hour by 2024, with the age threshold incrementally lowering to 23+ in 2021 and finally 21+ by 2024. This means that younger workers will benefit from wage rises.
- Also a ‘centrepiece’ of the Conservatives plans is a new ‘national skills fund’, worth £3bn, which is intended to provide match funding for individuals and employers. A portion of this would be reserved for ‘strategic’ investment in skills. Again, we await further detail of how this will work in practice.
- In addition, the Tories have committed to introducing the changes recommended by the Good Work Plan (some of which have already been introduced, but others have yet to be clarified). This includes reform of the law on employment status, and giving the potential right for zero hours workers to request a more predictable pattern of work. Our previous article on the Good Work Plan can be found here.
- And last but definitely not least – of course, Brexit will have an impact on many of our laws, including employment law. Boris Johnson intends for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020, and for the transition period to end on 31 December 2020. The Conservative manifesto gave no details about future plans for employment law after we leave the EU, only a general statement that they would ensure high standards of worker’s rights.
If you are dealing with an employment law issue, then we can help. Please call us on 01243 836840 for a no obligation chat, or email us at [email protected].