The UK heads to the polls on 8th June 2017. In anticipation, we will have a look at some of the key employment issues being discussed at the moment for both employers and employees, as any changes in employment rights will likely have a big impact for young employees and the older workforce alike.
It goes without saying that any government will be busy dealing with the UK’s exit from the EU over the next two years, and that will include discussion about the rights of EU workers after the negotiations have ended.
It has been a busy time in the area of worker rights and employment with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and Gender Pay Gap reporting as well as increases to the National Living Wage and the personal tax allowance. Further, there has been a focus on the rights of temporary workers, or workers on short-term contracts – sometimes referred to as the ‘gig economy’ – and there is no reason to expect any slowdown in the focus on these important issues whoever wins the general election.
Another hot topic that is sure to be debated at length is the issue of Zero Hours Contracts. There have been some major changes to the law surrounding these contracts in the last 12 months, not least the ban on the use of “exclusivity” clauses, which prevented employees from working for any other employers, even during their time off. The subject is an emotive one with strong views expressed on all sides and whoever wins we will see the policy surrounding these ‘contracts’ evolving and whatever happens there will be an impact on employers and employees.
From an employment point of view, one of the main concerns over the past few years has been the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees. Employees are currently required to pay to bring their claims and then a further fee is payable a few weeks before the final hearing. The introduction of fees has resulted, whether directly or indirectly, in a reduction in the number of claims pursued in the Employment Tribunal by approximately 70%, and whilst there is an argument that the fees have resulted in fewer malicious or unfounded claims being brought before the Tribunal, it is also a concern that the fees have operated as barrier to seeking justice. We will have to wait and see whether the future will bring any changes to these, and if this an important issue for you I encourage you to explore the views of the election candidates.
The next few years will also likely see a change in the way in which employee’s rights can be enforced, and whether those rights will be ring-fenced following the UK’s exit from the EU. A major concern for numerous employers will be whether the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK will be preserved once the UK leaves the EU. So far, it is suggested that the right for current EU nationals working in the UK will be preserved, but given the level of negotiations that are still due to take place, any guarantees at this stage are uncertain at best.
Whatever the result of the election the next few months are likely to see some significant changes in respect of employment rights and the obligations of employers, so please be assured QCS will keep you up to date with any changes that are planned, and provide you with the advice you need to negotiate the minefield of employment, whoever takes the agenda forward after 8th June!