Election 2019: What is next for employment law?

Posted on: December 16th, 2019

As the dust begins to settle on the general election and the Tories’ big win, we thought it would be a good time to remind you of the key pledges contained in their manifesto relating to employment law, so we can begin to get ahead of what might be coming down the line.

A single enforcement body – the creation of a single body, which is designed to eliminate abuse and enforce breaches of employment law by employers, particularly towards those in lower paid work (for example, employers refusing to pay sick pay or taking workers’ tips).

Predictable contracts – to give workers the right to request a more predictable employment contract and other ‘reasonable’ protections. The intention is to balance the needs of both employees and employers, by encouraging flexible working to help support working families. The proposal suggests the implementation of extended neonatal care for parents, a reform in the redundancy law protection for new mothers, ideas on how to ensure paternity leave is accessible for all fathers, an increase in funding towards childcare outside of term time (before and after school), and extended leave for unpaid carers.

Skills and training – introduces a new £3 billion National Skills Fund, alongside other investment in skills and training to ensure employers can recruit the workers they need. Alongside training, there is a focus on supporting businesses to invest in physical buildings and equipment. The Apprenticeship Levy will also be reviewed, to consider where improvements can be made.

Pay – we will see the rates of income tax, National Insurance and VAT freeze. It is also proposed that the National Insurance threshold will increase to £9,500 in 2020, with the overall aim that individuals will keep more of the money they earn, with the first £12,500 of earnings intended to be completely tax free.

Termination payments – a reform to payments on the termination of employment and a commitment that when high-paid public servants move between jobs, it will be possible to claw back all redundancy payments.

Immigration – introduce an ‘Australian-style’ points-based immigration system, treating EU and non-EU workers equally. The party also proposes to attract entrepreneurs through the start-up visa, and introduce an NHS visa for qualified health professionals with fast-track entry, reduced visa fees and dedicated support.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, there is little information as to how the proposals will be implemented. However, further detail is likely to be forthcoming in the New Year, especially as Brexit will almost certainly continue to dominate the agenda for the immediate future.

Suffice to say though, the Conservative proposals represent tweaks and minor adjustments rather than a radical overhaul. Perhaps the more interesting question is whether Boris Johnson will be emboldened to tackle some of the more tricky employment law questions, such as employment status and the gig economy?

For more information on employment law, please contact a member of the Employment team on 0333 000 0040 or fill in the enquiry form.