You are in: Home > Employment Law

Employment Law Under Cameron And Clegg

17th May 2010
By hitsearch in Employment Law
RSS Legal RSS    Views: N/A

As David Cameron sets up home in Number 10 we take a look at what implications the General Election result may have on employment law. The coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats marries two very different political ideals. What happens during the administration will be hard to predict and this article takes a look at the key issues.

Money talks…
The economy has been the major issue of the election campaign and now that a government has finally been formed it seems certain that economic policy is to take centre stage. The consensus is that cuts need to take place but the timing of such cuts is a contentious issue.

The Conservative campaign made it clear that that there will be immediate public sector cuts whilst the Liberal Democrats followed Labour in saying that cuts should be stalled until the economy is stronger. Whilst there have been no official announcements concerning this issue it is now expected that cuts will take place immediately, but we will need to wait for the emergency budget in 50 days time for official confirmation.

The public sector "job for life" culture has already come to an end under Labour and the new coalition is expected to rock the boat even further. It is almost inevitable that there will be a public sector pay freeze and redundancies. The cuts are essential but will obviously not be a boost to the jobs market. Although arguably the cuts could be a good thing for HR outsourcing companies as local authorities will have to seek help to plug the gap in their resources. If such work is outsourced then suppliers must be aware that employees may automatically transfer to them under TUPE.

The new government will have a real challenge in keeping their staff engaged and keeping the unions off the picket lines.

"One in One Out"
Somewhat surprising when it comes to employment law, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats do have quite a few polices in common. The "one in one out" policy for employment legislation is detailed in both manifestos. This will mean that the introduction of any new employment legislation must include a reduction in old laws. Hopefully this policy will see a reduction in red tape and decrease in the administrative burdens on businesses which should aid economic recovery.

The Equality Bill
This single Bill is due to replace 116 separate pieces of equality legislation and is set to come into force in England, Scotland and Wales simultaneously. Under Labour the bulk of the legislation was due to come into force in October 2010. This now seems unlikely as during the final debate on the Bill the Conservative party indicated that they would review the way the Equality Act is brought into force. Now that they are in power it will be interesting to see what happens to this long debated piece of legislation.

It is likely that the new government will scrap the part of the Bill that says central and local government must take socio-economic inequality into account when formulating polices; in an nutshell a big "no" to positive discrimination. The proposed obligations on businesses to publish details of their gender pay gap are also likely to be softened. Although Conservatives state that they are committed to tackling equal pay and confirm that they will outlaw the inclusion of clauses in contracts preventing colleagues discussing their earnings.

Equal pay is expected to be one of the key employment law issues for the new government.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat policies are poles apart so this will be an interesting area. In the coalition negotiations the Liberals have had to give up their idea of an amnesty for illegal immigrants, so that's already out of the window. Conservatives plan to set an annual limit on non-EU migrants coming to work in the UK and strengthen the student visa system but getting the Liberals to agree to this will be a challenge.

Family friendly rights
Family friendly rights have been at the top of the agenda for all parties. The Conservatives aim is to "make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe" by introducing a system of shared parental leave where parents share leave between them with only the mother being able to take the first 14 weeks after birth. Liberals have a similar policy but extend the right to fathers by saying that mothers only have to take a maximum of two weeks off after the birth. They also propose giving fathers time off to attend ante-natal appointments.

Another Liberal Democrat pledge is to extend the right to flexible working to all staff, not just those that are parents or carers. Conservatives agree that there should be an extension but want to limit it focus on extending the right just to older workers. There are also Conservative plans to introduce tax breaks for married couples but the Liberals have confirmed that they will not support this.

Making Britain a more family friendly place is a great ideal but we suspect that not all of these ideas will come to fruition because of the cost to the government and businesses.
The youth of today
All three parties have focused on the issue of youth unemployment during their campaigns. Young people have been particularly affected by the recession and there are currently almost one million young people not in education, employment or training. The Conservative and Liberal Democrats both agree that this problem needs to be tackled so we should expect to see more apprenticeships and college places over the next few years.

Other changes
The Conservatives may replace the Human Rights Act to create a British Bill of Rights.

Part of the Agency Workers Directive could be stalled as the new government believes it will reduce workplace flexibility.

The National Minimum Wage may be increased to £7 per hour with the age bands being removed.

In David Cameron's first speech as Prime Minister he said that society should not ask "what are my entitlements but what are my responsibilities?" It will be intriguing to see if a Conservative government does try to put an end to Britain's lay about culture whilst still helping those in need. The new government will certainly have an impact upon employment law and the overall feeling is that hopefully there will be enough regulation to protect the vulnerable, but not so much that economic growth is stalled.

This article was written by Carly Newport, a Solicitor in the Employment Team at Southampton Solicitors Trethowans LLP.

This article is free for republishing
Bookmark and Share

Ask a Question about this Article

powered by Yedda