Election manifestos: what's on the agenda for employment?


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With less than a week to go until the general election on 12th December it's worth a quick look at the manifestos of the main parties.

All the parties have plans to modernise employment rights, with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats stating that they will simplify employment status and both parties planning action in relation to zero hours contracts (in Labour's case to ban them, and in the Lib Dem's case to give those on zero hours the right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months).

The Conservatives pledge that they will prioritise the principle of fairness in the workplace and will consult on making flexible working the default.  Labour also want to give all workers the right to flexible working, as well as carrying out a review of all family friendly rights.  Meanwhile the Lib Dems will increase statutory paternity pay up to six weeks, and plan to require organisations to publish parental leave and pay policies.

The Labour party has an extensive equality agenda, including bringing into force a new ground for discrimination on socio-economic grounds, and the introduction of mandatory disability pay-gap reporting for companies with over 250 employees.  Meanwhile the Conservatives pledge that they will tackle prejudice, racism and discrimination, and the Liberal Democrats intend, amongst other things to have a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities and to undertake a review of the funding of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

All parties are promising training to retrain and upskill workers, with the Conservatives proposing a new National Skills Fund, Labour promising to give everyone a free lifelong entitlement to training up to a Level 4 award in education and training, and the Lib Dems proposing the introduction of new Skills Wallets, giving people up to £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives.

As far as immigration is concerned the Conservatives have declared that, post-Brexit, they will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system with the aim of attracting high-skilled workers, and fewer lower-skilled migrants.  Labour states that if the UK leaves the EU the rights of EU citizens will be subject to negotiation, but that they will seek to protect the social and economic benefits of free movement.  The Lib Dems plan to save EU freedom of movement by stopping Brexit and have stated that they will reform Britain's immigration system.

This gives a very brief summary of some of the commitments set out in the manifestos of the three main parties.  For more information please refer to our bulletin, 'General election manifestos: what's being promised?'

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