With the UK heading towards a general election on 12th December 2019, we consider the key employment policies pledged by each major political party at each 2019 Party Conference.
Conservatives pledged to increase the national living wage by approximately 27% by 2024, taking it from £8.21 to £10.50. At present the national living wage only applies to workers aged 25 and over. However, the Conservatives have pledged to reduce the age threshold from 25 to 21 within the next 5 years. They plan to do this in two stages, with the threshold dropping from 25 to 23 in 2021 and then dropping again to 21 in 2024.
The Conservative Party has also promised to tackle youth unemployment by investing £500 million into youth clubs and services with a view to supporting young people in securing employment.
The party has also promised to prioritise the principle of fairness by creating a single enforcement body to crack down on “employer abusing employment law”. They would also ensure that workers have the right to request a more predictable contract, encourage flexible working and look to introduce legislation to allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care.
They have said they would also raise the threshold at which people pay National Insurance to £9,500 in the first budget and the £12,500 after that.
The Party has also promised to introduce a pensions dashboard which would enable people to see their savings online in one place. They would also add new controls to transfer pensions.
The Labour party has pledged to reduce the average full time working week to 32 hours within 10 years, effectively equating to a 4 day working week.
The Labour party proposed to deliver this by:
- Ending the op-out from the European Working Time Directive (so that workers would no longer be able to agree to work more than 48 hours per week);
- Setting up a Working Time Commission with the power to recommend increases in statutory leave entitlements;
- Reinstating sectoral collective bargaining which would include negotiations over working hours.
Labour has also pledged to increase the national living wage to over £10 per hour as soon as possible and to reduce the age threshold for national living wage to 16 by 2024. The party also promised to abolish zero hour contracts.
Labour has also said that it will require all large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy to break the stigma associated with the menopause, as part of the party’s plans to transform the workplace for women.
Finally, Labour has pledged to create a Ministry for Employment Rights to deliver better wages, provide greater security and provide workers with more control over how their workplaces are run.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce a higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours of work.
The Party has also pledged to extend shared parental leave to self-employed fathers, ensure that parental leave is a day one right and offering fathers an additional four weeks of “use it or lose it” paternity leave.
Further, the Liberal Democrats pledged to reform the apprenticeship levy and introduce a more flexible Personal Education and Skills Account which both the government and employers would contribute to.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to oblige bigger companies to publish data on employment levels by gender, diversity and pay gaps. Similarly, the party would require large companies to publicly publish their parental leave policies, including information regarding funding.
The Party has also put forward proposals to fund an EU recruitment campaign and to lower the £30,000 earnings threshold for jobs to qualify as skilled for overseas workers.
As employment law is a reserved matter, the potential impact of the SNP’s policies is limited.
However, SNP has pledged to increase the national living wage to over £10 per hour which would be payable to anyone over the age of 18. SMP also proposed to increase the apprentice rate for 16-18 year olds.
Further, the party has pledged to introduce a Jobs Grant for people aged 16 to 24 who have been unemployed for six months or more which would see young parents receiving £250 and those without children receiving £100, as well as free bus travel for three months to help them take up offers of work.
Finally SNP has promised to double the National Insurance discount that businesses receive when they increase employment, known as the Employment Allowance.