Implications of the General Election result for employment law

With the Conservative Party having won a majority in the General Election 2019, this has the following implications for employment law reform:

Manifesto commitments

The Conservative Party’s manifesto promised various measures, including:

  • Creating a new single enforcement body and “cracking down” on any employer abusing employment law
  • Ensuring that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract (this was already promised in the Good Work Plan) and “other reasonable protections” 
  • Increasing the national living wage (NLW) to two-thirds of average earnings (currently forecast at £10.50 an hour) and widening its reach to workers over the age of 21 from April 2024
  • Encouraging flexible working and consulting on making it the default position unless employers have good reasons not to allow it
  • Legislating to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care
  • Looking at ways to make it easier for fathers to take paternity leave
  • Extending the entitlement to leave for unpaid carers to one week
  • Introducing a “firmer and fairer” Australian-style points-based immigration system.

Changes already potentially in the pipeline

  • IR35 – important changes to IR35 for medium and large private sector end users are due to take effect from 6 April 2020. However, during the course of the election campaign, the Conservative Party stated that it would review these proposed changes ahead of their planned introduction
  • A number of consultations closed during 2019 and now await either a government response or possible implementing legislation. These include consultations on: reforming family-related leave and pay; measures to address one-sided flexibility, including a new right for workers to reasonable notice of their working hours, with compensation for short or no notice shift cancellation; requiring employers with 250 or more employees to publish their family-related leave and pay and flexible working policies on their website; reforming statutory sick pay (SSP); introducing a new right for non-disabled employees to request workplace modifications on health grounds; introducing mandatory ethnicity pay reporting; and strengthening sexual harassment and equality protection

The government has also already committed to implementing the following changes to legislation when Parliamentary time allows:

  • Extending the redundancy protection period during which an employee on maternity leave must be offered suitable alternative employment in priority to other potentially redundant employees, to cover the period from when she informs her employer that she is pregnant until six months after her return to work from maternity leave
  • Prohibiting non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) being used to prevent disclosures being made to the police or to regulated health, care or legal professionals, ensuring the limitations of NDAs are clearly set out in employment contracts and settlement agreements, and extending the requirement for independent legal advice on settlement agreements to include the limitations of any NDAs.

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