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How the Government Manifesto Pledges impact upon the Workplace.
Following the General Election, the Conservative Party have remained in power and secured a large parliamentary majority in the process. This result should ensure the party is able to pass its manifesto pledges through parliament in the coming months with relative ease, therefore it will be important to examine how these pledges stand to impact the workplace.
EU Nationals and Settled Status
With a campaign slogan of ‘Get Brexit Done’, it is now likely that the UK will leave the EU before the new deadline of January 31st 2020. In this situation, EU nationals currently living and working in the UK, who wish to remain, will have until 30th June 2021 to apply for settled status. The settled status scheme, will give eligible EU nationals the right to remain in the UK indefinitely, which should reassure organisations with a considerable number of EU workers that Brexit will not immediately limit their access to overseas staff.
Having said this, the party’s plans for a ‘points-based’ immigration system may create uncertainty for organisations with future plans to hire foreign nationals for low skilled-work, especially as freedom of movement will come to an end. Since the Conservatives have insisted that greater priority will be given to highly skilled job seekers with desirable qualifications, organisations in industries such as agriculture, retail and hospitality may find their access to job-seekers restricted.
National Minimum Wage Rates
When it comes to minimum wage (NMW) rates, the Conservatives have pledged to increase the National Living Wage to £10.50 an hour by 2024, whilst also lowering the age threshold to 23 and over by 2021 and finally 21 and over by 2024. In truth, this increase is not as drastic as it may appear, given that NMW rates have continued to increase incrementally each year. However, the changes to the age barriers will still represent a significant increase for younger workers.
Working Parents rights
Working parents are set to experience an increase in employment rights if the Conservatives follow through with their pledge to introduce neo-natal leave, which will essentially extend maternity and paternity leave for those whose children require a prolonged period in hospital immediately after birth. There are also plans to provide pregnant women and new parents with extra protection during redundancy procedures.
Unpaid Care Commitments
Individuals who juggle work and unpaid care commitments are set to receive the right to a week off work in recognition of the strain placed upon them, however little has been confirmed of how this will apply in practice. Meanwhile, there are plans to make flexible working the ‘default arrangement’ for available positions unless organisations have good reasons not to offer this.
2018 Good Work Plan
The Conservative victory also assures us that the changes announced as part of 2018’s Good Work plan will go ahead, which includes plans for zero-hours workers, and others with variable working patterns, to be given the right to request a more stable contract. In addition, there are also commitments to review the employment status framework in order to add more clarity for organisations, whilst also making it easier for ad hoc employees to accrue continuous service.
Single Enforcement Body
As part of a commitment to make the UK the ‘best place in the world to work’, the Conservatives intend to introduce a single enforcement body which should make it more difficult for organisations to avoid penalties for employment law breaches.
CIPD, December 2019.
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