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Saturday, 09 May 2015 15:41

The general election and possible implications on employment law

Written by  Jonathan Lord
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To reduce the cost burden on the employment tribunals system, the coalition government implemented a fees system where Claimants are required to pay up to £1,200 per case to pursue their claim. This had the intention of

reducing the cost of administering the Tribunals system, however recent reports have highlighted that the fees cover only 7% of the administrative costs, despite there being an 80% drop in issued claims within some jurisdictions.

As the general election approaches, all political parties have sought to outline their approach in reducing the burden of the employment law courts whilst trying to administer justice for both employees and employers.

What do the political parties now intend to do and how might they change workplace rights?


The Conservatives aim to “continue to support UK businesses” and are not currently envisaging any further changes to the system such as the fees structure.

In terms of effects on the workplace, the Conservatives propose to “protect you from disruptive and undemocratic strike action”, and make it more difficult for unions to call strikes. Any strike will require at least 50% turnout, the support of at least 40% of those entitled to take part in ballots, and a majority among those who actually vote.

The Conservatives also state that will “encourage” employers to pay the living wage, whenever they can afford it. How this will be implemented, either through legislation or incentives is unclear.

Issues around the use of zero-hours contracts has been debated publicly for sometime and the Conservatives say they will take “further steps” to eliminate abuses such as exclusivity in such contracts. Again, how this will be implemented is unclear, but as all political parties view this as a serious issue, it can be assumed that some form of legislation will be passed.

The final pledge from the Conservatives manifesto is for companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees.


The Labour party believes that the introduction of employment tribunal fees has created a substantial barrier to justice for Claimants and have promised to abolish the current fee system.

As per the Conservatives, the Labour party have vowed to eradicate “exploitative” zero hours contracts by prohibiting exclusivity clauses and introducing a right to a fixed hours contract after 12 weeks of regular working. A new ACAS Code of Practice on zero hours contracts has also been promised.

The Swedish derogation from the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 and employers under cutting the wages of permanent staff by using cheaper agency workers is a loophole which Labour have Pledged to remove.

An increase of paternity leave from two to four weeks has also been promised.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems have promised to review Employment Tribunal fees, with a suggestion of introducing a nominal fee, and also look into the enforcement of general employment rights.

The Lib Dems are also tackling the misuse of zero hours contracts by adding new “right to request” provisions to allow all workers to request a permanent contract of employment, regardless of their length of service.

Paternity rights for fathers are also targeted with the Lib Dems allowing fathers to take 6 weeks’ paternity leave in addition to the current Shared Parental Leave Regulations, which would extend the rights under legislation to a total of 58 weeks’ shared leave for both parents.

The Equality Act 2010 introduced the ban on pre-employment health checks, and the Lib Dems have promised to look into having “blank name” job applications to reduce the risk of discrimination occurring in the recruitment process.


UKIP have promised to “protect workers’ rights”, however there is very little detail regarding how the party will change or amend employment legislation in relation to this.

UKIP’s main objective is to leave the EU and the party claims that, if this were to happen, employment rights would continue to be protected. UKIP says that some laws, such as those relating to working time, would be amended because they “actively restrict the British work ethos and therefore [the] economy”.

Green Party

The Greens have vowed to “reduce” Tribunal fees to make the system more accessible to workers. They also intend to increase the minimum wage to £10 per hour by 2020 as well as ban the use of zero hours contracts.
They also want to, controversially, introduce a gradually phased in maximum 35-hour working week with the intention of creating more jobs and improving employee work-life balance.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru have not indicated whether they would seek to abolish employment tribunal fees or not, but have promised a review. They have however pledged to enforce the “living wage” for all employees by 2020 and to promote economic growth through cutting business rates for small to medium sized businesses.

Scottish National Party

The SNP have detailed very little in terms of employment legislation, however they have pledged to work towards a living wage and want to increase the national minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020.


The manifestos of the political parties differ in terms of the radicalisation of employment reform, with the Labour party pledging to implement more changes than any of the other parties with the abolition of the tribunal fees system.

Last modified on Saturday, 09 May 2015 16:13
Jonathan Lord

Jonathan Lord

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