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General Election 2017 – Party Employment Law Proposals & Changes

Theresa May’s announcement in April explaining that there would be a snap general election on 8 June surprised many. It isn’t all about Brexit and many will be pleased to learn that employment law proposals feature in many of the political parties’ manifestos, many focusing on an extension of worker’s rights. It is therefore appropriate and timely to have a look at the main parties’ individual employment law proposals as set out in their respective manifestos.


  • To ensure that the interests of workers and the self-employed are properly protected in the UK’s wider ‘Gig’ economy and focusing on the recent Taylor report proposals;
  • To enable all employees to have unpaid time off for training, to care for sick relatives and to deal with child bereavement;
  • To limit executive pay to annual votes by shareholders and to require listed companies to publish the ratio of executive pay to that of the broader UK workforce;
  • A commitment to increasing the National Living Wage to 60% of average earnings by 2020. Thereafter to keep up with the retail price index;
  • To enable tax breaks of up to a year on Employer national insurance contributions relating to new employees with disabilities, mental health issues and those with long term unemployment histories;
  • To increase the immigration skills charge levied on businesses employing migrant workers from £1,000 to £2,000 by 2022;
  • Extended Equality Act protections against workplace discrimination to mental health conditions that are ‘episodic and fluctuating;
  • Increased gender pay gap reporting requirements on larger employers and to introduce pay gap reporting obligations in relation to ethnic minority employees; and
  • The possibility of introducing a British bill of rights that might affect employment law and the right of workers.



  • The establishment of a Ministry of Labour whose task will be to oversee the enforcement of workers’ rights;
  • A complete ban on zero hours contracts and unpaid internships;
  • A commitment to doubling paid paternity leave to 4 weeks and to increase paternity pay;
  • To include ‘terminal illnesses’ as a new protected characteristic for the purpose of establishing discrimination at work and to amend the Equality Act 2010;
  • Strengthen the protection of women against unfair redundancy relating to maternity and parental commitments;
  • To protect workers in the Gig economy by placing the burden of proof onto the employer to prove that an individual worker is not an employee in circumstances where worker status is in dispute;
  • The introduction of maximise pay gap rules for public sector employees and those who private sector employees who perform public sector contracts. The proposal is a maximum pay differential of 20:1 between the highest and the lowest paid earners;
  • To abolish employment tribunal fees;
  • To remove the public sector pay cap currently 1%;
  • To repeal the Trade Union Act 2016 which increased balloting numbers and restricted trade union activities;
  • To expand workplace collective bargaining rights;
  • To ensure trade unions can access all work places and enforce worker’s rights and to roll out the right to trade union membership at work;
  • Public sector contracts to be awarded only to businesses that formally recognise trade unions; and
  • Preventing overseas only recruitment practices and cracking down on employers who fail to pay migrant workers the National minimum and Living wage.


Liberal Democrats

  • A commitment to banning zero hour contracts and the right to request fixed term contracts;
  • The use of external enforcement agencies to strengthen the enforcement of existing employment contracts;
  • Giving all workers paternity and shared parental leave from the commencement of employment;
  • Extending paternity leave to fathers by an additional month;
  • Extending the pay gap reporting provisions to cover national living wage compliance, and the gaps between the top and average rates of pay within a business;
  • Include additional requirements under the Equality Act 2010 that large employers publish data on gender, black and minority ethnic and lesbian gay bisexual and transgender employment levels and pay gaps;
  • Guaranteeing the freedom to wear religious or cultural dress in the workplace;
  • Outlawing caste discrimination and extending discrimination law to protect gender identity and expression;
  • Implement worker participation in company decision making by having mandatory staff representation on remuneration committees and at board level;
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees; and
  • Protecting workers rights in the UK’s Gig economy.


Green Party

  • The introduction of a mandatory 4 day working week or a maximum of 35 hours per week;
  • Abolish zero hour contracts;
  • Increase in the National Minimum Wage to £10 per hour by 2020;
  • Introducing a universal basic income with a pilot scheme along the lines recently trialled in Finland guaranteeing a non means tested basic wage;
  • To end gender pay gaps; and
  • To ensure that there is 40% representation of women on all public company and public sector boards.


Scottish National Party (SNP)

  • An increase in the National Minimum Wage to the level of the Real Living Wage to over £10 by 2022;
  • No increase in income tax or national insurance for the low paid;
  • A UK wide increase in income tax from 45p to 50p; and
  • A doubling in the employment allowance which provides a national insurance discount for job creation.


If you would like to find out more, please call Steven Eckett, our employment solicitor, on 020 7998 7777  or email him at steven.eckett@bloomsbury-law.com.


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