The HR policy guide: Labour party
The second edition of HR magazine's daily, pre-election guide to the main parties' employment and HR-related policies features the Labour party.
Labour plans to create 80,000 more apprenticeships lasting two years that lead to level 3 qualifications. A Labour party spokesman told HR magazine the plans offered “a something-for-something deal to employers: more control over skills funding and training, in return for more high-quality apprenticeships in their sectors and supply chains”.
The party will also introduce a gold standard Technical Baccalaureate for 16- to 19-year-olds. These vocational qualifications will be accredited by employers, and will include a work placement and English and maths to age 18.
Under Labour’s “jobs guarantee” scheme, 18- to 24-year-olds out of work for a year will be offered a taxpayer-funded job for six months.
The party will cut university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year.
Labour would ban zero-hours contracts for employees working regular hours for more than 12 weeks.
The party would abolish the current employment tribunal system, replacing it with one that reforms fees imposed on employees launching claims.
It promises to create one million high technology, green jobs by 2025 and open 36,000 posts within the NHS.
Labour plans to increase the national minimum wage (NMW) to £8 an hour by 2020 and raise fines for employers paying below NMW. It will also offer tax breaks to businesses that become accredited living wage employers in the first year of government. A Labour party spokesman told HR magazine: “We know from countries such as Germany and Australia that we can increase the minimum wage to this level without impacting on jobs. And our long-term target means businesses will have the time to plan and adapt.”
The party also wants to cut government ministers’ pay by 5%. It has hinted its manifesto will include equal pay pledges for women.
Labour will reduce the minimum earnings threshold for auto-enrolment from £10,000 to £5,772, meaning that 1.5 million people who work part-time or with low incomes will be enrolled onto workplace pension schemes.
The party also wants to protect savers from “rip-off pension products” by capping fees and charges on new products. A Labour party spokesman explained: “There is a compelling case for action to allow employees to choose to save into collective defined contribution pensions so that the risks of unpredictable investment returns are shared and smoothed among all active and retired members of the scheme.”
Labour plans to extend the 15 hours of free childcare currently offered to children aged four and five to 25 hours per week.
It wants to double paid paternity leave for new fathers from two to four weeks, and increase statutory paternity pay from £120 to £260 a week. More announcements are expected on maternity leave.
Labour wants to introduce a ban on employment agencies recruiting exclusively from abroad, and will make it a criminal offence for employers to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers.
It will introduce stronger border controls to tackle illegal immigration – with proper entry and exit checks – as well as targets to reduce low-skilled migration, but ensure university students and high-skilled workers are not deterred.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has said an EU referendum is “unlikely” to take place if his party wins the election, but that an in-out referendum would be held if the UK was asked to transfer more powers to Brussels.