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General Election 2017 Will our analysis of the Tories manifesto pledges give Mrs May the blues?

With Brexit maintaining its position as being the political story on everyone’s lips, Teresa May’s decision to hold a general election on 8th June 2017 took many by surprise. The current government’s tenure will have lasted just over two years, the shortest since 1974.

Too often, the early promises of a nascent government are forgotten. However, our employment law Partner, Ben Stanton, has reviewed the 2015 Conservative manifesto to see how many of its employment law pledges were implemented in that short period:

1.  Increase the personal allowance to mean that a worker working up to 30 hours a week on the minimum wage will not pay any income tax.

Did they do it?

Nearly. The personal allowance currently stands at £11,500.00, whereas a worker on the Living Wage of £7.50 per hour (for those aged 25 and over) would earn £11,700.00 over a 30 hour week.

2.  Instead of being linked to inflation, “permanently link” the National Minimum Wage to the personal allowance, which they propose to raise to £12,500 by the end of the next Parliament, “on course for a minimum wage that will be over £8.00 by the end of the decade”, to “entrench in law” the principle that no worker on the National Minimum Wage should ever pay income tax.

Did they do it?

No, but had the government continued for another three years, it was on course to achieve this pledge.  An increase from the original rate of £7.20 per hour to £7.50 per hour on 1st April 2017 shows that the Living Wage was on course to hit £8.00 in the next three years.  As things stand, the government falls short on both of these targets with the current personal allowance of £11,500.00 and Living Wage of £7.50 per hour.

3.  Fund 3 million apprenticeships, abolishing employer’s national insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25.

Did they do it?

Partially:

In 2014/15 there were over 500,000 apprenticeship starts in England and in 2015/16, 509,400.  The numbers of apprenticeships have steadily increased (there were 280,000 at the time of the coalition government in 2010) and continued to rise;

Employer National Insurance continuations for under 25s earning up to £43,000.00 have been abolished.

4.  Remove any obligations of exclusivity from zero hours (i.e. that a worker on a zero hour contract must not be banned from working for alternative employers).

Did they do it?

Yes.  In May 2015, exclusivity clauses within zero hours contracts became unlawful.  However, it was not until 11th January 2016 (with the implementation of The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015) that it actually became an offence for employers to dismiss an employee for refusing to accept such a term, or for subjecting a zero hours worker to 'any detriment' if they looked for work elsewhere.

5.  Change industrial action legislation to state that strikes may only occur if supported by 40% of all those entitled to vote.  Also repealing legislation which prevents employers from employing agency staff to cover strike action.

Did they do it?    

Yes.  The Trade Union Act 2016 (Commencement No.3 and Transitional) Regulations 2017 came in to effect on 1st March 2017 which, amongst other things

  • increased to 50% the voting threshold for union ballots turnouts (while retaining the requirement for there to be a simple majority of votes in favour of industrial action); and
  • introduced an additional requirement that 40% of all those entitled to vote in the ballot must vote in favour of industrial action in certain public services such as health, education, fire and transport (see below);

6.  Employers of 250 or more employees will have to publish the difference between average pay of its male and female employees.

Did they do it?

Yes, with a couple of months to spare.  The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 came in to force on 6th April 2017, meaning that employers of 250 or more employees now have 12 months to publish the information on their own website and to upload it to a government website.

7.  Employers of 250 or more employees or who are in the public sector will have to provide their employees with three additional days’ paid leave, for the purposes of allowing them to carry out volunteer work (not outlined in the manifesto).

Did they do it?

No.  Consultation was due to take place this year.  Parliament will be dissolved on 3rd May, after which no further legislation will be passed until after the election.  Any Bills not passed by the date of dissolution will lapse and the next government will have the option to present them again in their current or an amended form.  It remains to be seen whether this is something that the conservatives carry forward in their next manifesto.

If you want to discuss the past or proposed changes to employment law, or any other employment issue, please feel free to email me at ben.stanton@franklins-sols.co.uk, or call our Employment Team on 01908 660966 or 01604 828282.