The HR guide to the general election
As the UK heads to the polls in what is being touted as one of the most important elections in decades, HR magazine outlines the main parties' policies affecting the world of employment
Pledges from the Conservatives:
- To introduce a 'firmer and fairer' Australian-style points-based immigration system. This would require most people to have a clear job offer before they arrive in the UK, reduce the number of low-skilled migrants coming to the country, and treat EU and non-EU immigrants equally.
- The UK would leave the EU no later than January 2020. It also said that post-Brexit trade relations with the EU would not be extended beyond the end of 2020.
- Introduce a National Skills Fund as the first step towards a 'Right to Retrain' scheme.
- Review IR35 ahead of its rollout to the private sector next year.
- Recruit 50,000 more nurses (including the 18,500 existing nurses the government hopes to persuade to remain in the workforce).
- Raise the threshold for paying National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from £8,632 to £9,500 in April 2020, with an ultimate ambition to raise it further to £12,500.
- Introduce a National Living Wage of £10.50 for over-21s within the next five years.
- To not raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT.
- Recruit 20,000 new police officers.
- To cut business rates by 50% for smaller pubs, shops and cinemas as part of an effort to re-energise the high street and promote local businesses.
- To crack down on tax evasion and avoidance, including passing a law doubling the prison term to 14 years for individuals convicted of the worst forms of tax fraud.
Pledges from Labour:
- Reduce working hours to 32 hours per week (or four days) across the economy, with no loss of pay.
- End the opt-out provision for the EU Working Time Directive. An independent Working Time Commission would also be established to advise on raising minimum holiday entitlements and reducing working time.
- Migration would be 'subject to negotiations'.
- Introduce a £10 National Living Wage for all employees.
- To end 'bogus' self-employment and ban zero-hours contracts.
- Create new jobs through a transition to a green economy, tackling both the need for skills development and the climate crisis. A Foundation Industries Sector Council would provide plans for those working in industries such as steel and glass, and help them transition to green technologies.
- Ensure public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence.
- Sectoral collective bargaining would be rolled out across the economy.
- Implement a requirement of 10% of employee ownership on large firms.
- Strengthen protections for whistleblowers and rights against unfair dismissal for workers.
- Introduce Universal Basic Income trials in Sheffield and Liverpool.
Pledges from the Liberal Democrats:
- A new 'dependent contractor' employment status would be established, which would sit between employment and self-employment.
- Encourage employers to introduce a living wage through a ‘good employer kite mark’.
- To set a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hours contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours of work.
- Launch a £10,000 'skills wallet' scheme for every adult in England to spend on education and training throughout their life.
- A commitment to make flexible working open to everyone from day one in a job with a requirement for employers to advertise jobs as such.
- Give employees the right to request shares.
- Provide support for the UK tech sector by teaching 'core skills' in logic and verbal reasoning.
- Reform immigration rules including enabling industry-sponsored work visas.
- To focus on wellbeing through appointing a minister for wellbeing and teaching emotional resilience in schools.