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An update of Employment law changes and the implications

An update of Employment law changes and the implications

The government’s employment law agenda, revealed in this year’s Queen’s speech, has two distinct strands:

  • greater restrictions on strike action
  • increases in individual employment rights

The speech confirmed plans outlined in the Conservative party’s election manifesto to reform trade unions and to protect essential public services against strikes.

Details on these proposed new laws point towards all strike ballots requiring a turnout of at least 50 per cent of those eligible to vote, alongside the existing requirement for a majority of those who actually vote in a ballot voting to strike.

If a proposed strike affects essential public services, which will include health, transport, fire services and schools, the strike will need the support of 40 per cent of all union members eligible to vote.

The government also proposed lifting the ban on employers using agency workers to cover striking employees, and tightening rules around paid time off for union duties for union representatives.

These changes, alongside yet to be defined plans to tackle the intimidation of non-striking workers, is likely to change the dynamic between unions and employers.

Reform of individual employment rights is also likely. A ban on the use of clauses in zero-hours contracts that require employees to work exclusively for one organisation came into force last month (May, 2015) under a provision in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Other government commitments include:

  • Increasing free childcare to 30 hours a week for working parents of three and four year olds. This will apply only in England and Wales, although the Scottish government could opt to implement similar measures.
  • Implementing obligations within the Act requiring all companies employing more than 250 individuals to publish their gender pay gap
  • Ensuring people working 30 hours a week on the National Minimum Wage pay no income tax, and keeping the minimum wage under the control of the Low Pay Commission in order to maintain its independence from party politics

If you have any questions about how any of this could affect you personally, or you business, then please do not hesitate to call us on – 01159 985245 and speak to a member of our friendly team.