The Green Party Manifesto – What it means for your business

Posted on: April 17th, 2015

As the election campaign “hots up” and the good weather continues, which the Greens would probably argue is all down to global warming, the Green Party unveiled their manifesto on Tuesday with much talk about the “Common Good”.

Whilst we did try very hard not to print out the 84 page document, but to be able to fully digest and report on it, unfortunately it had to be done. Rest assured it will be recycled appropriately. Fewer pictures than the Conservatives, with lots of text and “imagining” a better place to live, which ends with an “ideal scenario” for life under the Greens in 2019.

So what is the Common Good all about and what does the Green Party promise in particular for employers?

  • The Green Party say that they will aim for a living wage for all of “up to £10 per hour” by 2020 and increase the minimum wage to £8.10 an hour this year. The Conservatives and Labour say an increase to the national minimum wage to £8 by 2020 and the current national minimum wage is £6.50, so a big jump up.
  • Whilst there have been pledges from other parties limiting aspects of zero-hours contracts, the Green Party say that they will ban them altogether. They also want to phase in 35-hour working weeks, but there is not much more on how this would be introduced.
  • Interestingly very little is said about Employment Tribunals other than a promise to “reduce Employment Tribunal fees”.
  • The Green Party focus on transparency of earnings throughout organisations and on enforcing penalties for employers who fail to implement equal pay. They then go further than this by saying that they will make the highest wage in any organisation no more than ten times the lowest wage. So if someone was earning £12,500 a year, the, the top salary in the organisation could be no more than £125,000.
  • Following on from that, it is no surprise that the Green Party will raise the top rate of income tax to 60% and increase corporation tax from 20% to 30%.
  • The Green Party promise to reinstate the funding for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, whereas the Conservatives say that they will scrap it altogether.
  • The Green Party pledges to ensure the laws to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity are properly enforced – but they do not say how they might achieve this.
  • To improve equality in the workforce there is a promise to introduce anonymised applications from candidates for new roles before the interview stage to promote diversity and reduce discrimination. Presumably they would need to know their name before the individual is invited to interview, but the manifesto is unclear!
  • There is a promise to reform the “fit to work” scheme, returning to the system of assessment by GPs and other health professionals rather than an external third party contractor, which is criticised as assessing “people on the verge of death as fit for work”.
  • The Green Party promise apprenticeships for all “qualified” young people aged 16-25. The manifesto omits any explanation of what is meant by “qualified”.

Finally and not strictly an employment issue, the Green Party propose a radical and long term review of the tax and benefits system. The plan is to scrap most of the existing benefits and provide everyone a guaranteed basic income, regardless of whether or not they are working. The Green Party recognise that this is a massive change and would not intend to introduce it in a single parliament but work towards achieving this goal in subsequent parliaments. In addition, tackling climate change and the NHS are at the core of the Green Party’s manifesto and it is good news all round when it comes to animals. There is a promise to help bees, ban cages for hens and rabbits (in farming), mandatory CCTV at slaughterhouses, ban the sale of foie gras and put an end to all outdoor pursuits and “entertainment” that involves animals – horse racing, greyhound racing, shooting and the use of all animals at circuses – a slither of common ground with the Conservatives then. Next up and eagerly awaited – UKIP.