Election Fever – What Will It Mean For Your Business?

While the most likely outcome is some form of coalition meaning that whoever is at the helm will not have the freedom to deliver the promises made in their respective manifestos (shock horror – more failed promises), I thought it was worth looking at what the traditional big three were promising to their prospective voters. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all promised to help small business by cutting the relevant taxes or business rates and likewise, all three have committed to investing in apprenticeship schemes. The other main policies include:

Conservatives Proposals:

  • Introducing a British Bill of Rights and a Modern Slavery Bill aimed at tackling people trafficking;
  • Prohibiting the use of exclusivity clauses within zero hours contracts;
  • Changing the laws relating to strike action including the introduction of a 50% minimum voting threshold, a requirement for unions to give 14 days’ notice before any industrial action and the criminalisation of certain types of picketing;

Labour Proposals:

  • Increasing the rights of the self employed and those employed under zero hours contracts;
  • Abolishing Tribunal Fees System (although I have not seen any detail);
  • Extending free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours a week;
  • Increasing the national minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020;
  • Promoting equal pay between men and women including requiring business to publish average pay rates;

Liberal Democrats Proposals:

  • Increasing the national minimum wage for apprentices by in excess of £1 per hour;
  • Increasing the national minimum wage;
  • Requiring business to publish average pay rates for men and women;
  • Giving fathers an additional four weeks’ paternity leave;
  • Extending free childcare for working parents from 15 to 20 hours a week from the end of paid maternity leave for two years;

Whatever the result, one thing that can be guaranteed is a change to the rules governing the use of zero hours contracts. Despite what the media may have you believe, in the right context, a zero hours contract is perfectly justifiable. I have a number of clients who use them for the purposes they were intended and the workers are just as keen on the flexibility as the employer. It is the abuse of zero hours contracts which needs to be tackled, and this is firmly in the line of fire of all three parties.

Personally, I am surprised by the lack of campaigning around the Tribunal Fees – their introduction was transformational resulting in the number of claims issued falling by 70%. The Tories have hinted that the Fees have been a success and reduced the number of frivolous claims while both Labour and the Lib Dems have suggested that a drop of this magnitude must be evidence of a barrier to justice. Labour have recently announced they would “abolish the system” but what they have not specified, is whether they would abolish Fees altogether, or simply look to reduce them. Perhaps the SNP will hold the key!

James TwinePartner, Solicitor, Head of the Employment Team

Tel: 01752 292351Email: jtwine@wolferstans.com

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