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Election manifestos and employment

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The major political parties have now delivered their Election Manifestos in the lead up to the 2015 general election. Many of the major policies put forward by the parties will have a direct impact on both employers and employees.

Positive points arising from the manifestos for employees/workers are that there are commitments to increase the personal allowance tax threshold and also increase the minimum wage. For a business and employers there appear to be proposals to reduced business rates.

General

The Conservatives have committed to creating 3 million new apprenticeships and to help businesses create 2 million extra jobs over the next parliament.

Labour have stated that it will implement a guaranteed apprenticeship for all school leavers who attain certain grades and "require any firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships". In addition, it will ensure a ban on zero-hours contracts deemed to be "exploitative".

The Liberal Democrats have committed to pay a living wage set by an independent review to workers in all central government departments and their agencies from April 2016 and to consult on allowing employees on zero-hours contracts to request a fixed contract.

UKIP have made commitments to protect workers' rights, enforce the minimum wage, end the abuse of zero-hours contracts and to allow British businesses to choose to employ British workers first.

Employment Tribunal fees

Many employment practitioners and Claimants will note that some of the parties have put forward promises in respect of employment tribunal fee system which, since its introduction, has seen a drop in cases being brought by approximately 70% (Employment Tribunal Statistics, 2014).

The Conservatives have not considered altering the structure whilst Labour is committed to abolish the employment tribunal fees system. However it is unclear whether that means it will abolish employment tribunal fees altogether or just vary the amounts. The Liberal Democrats have committed to review fees to ensure they are not a barrier to justice and the Green party has stated that it will reduce employment tribunal fees to make them accessible to workers.

What is interesting is the difference in opinion between the political parties where key employment issues are concerned. Come 07 May 2015, we will wait with interest to see whether and how such measures are implemented and the significance of these proposals. 

By employment law solicitor, Laura Wilson

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