Manifesto of employment of workers the road paved with good intentions? (UK)

Manifesto Letter

As you’ll have noticed, there’s an election coming up in the UK, and between rows over tax lies, missed D-Day commemorations and the hotly contested question of which leader has the least charisma, there are some potentially very big changes. significant. pending when it comes to labor law.

We say potentially not because there currently seems to be a lot of room for uncertainty about the outcome of the election, but because there must be some question whether the changes set out by Labor in its Plan to Pay for Work: Delivering a New Deal for working people, which have now been extensively reformulated within his manifesto, will see the light of day in their current form. This is not just a cynical take on pre-election promises made by all political parties, which traditionally hover between aspirants and the actively dishonest, but more a question of how some of the proposed changes can actually be implemented in practice. .

Starting with some of the key points, Labor has proposed Day 1 rights for workers, including most notably the right to make a claim for unfair dismissal. While it has been common for successive Labor and Conservative governments to use the unfair dismissal qualifying period as the legislative equivalent of a bar, hitting it back and forth over the grid between the one-year and two-year qualifying periods, what is now proposed is very more radical. The lab proposes that this right apply from the start of employment and has also committed to establishing a single employment status, meaning that the tens of thousands of individuals who are currently considered workers will also gain this right. Labor has said this will not stop employers from applying a trial period; however, they have stated that there would have to be a potentially just cause for dismissal during this time and so it is not clear whether any lower standard would apply to demonstrate a just dismissal during this time or whether periods of test would be limited in length. . These things really matter when you turn electoral stance into tough law, and so we have to hope that more thought has been given to how this will work in practice than is apparent so far.

Labor has also committed to ending exploitative zero-hours contracts, in what doesn’t look at all like the kind of language guaranteed to result in satellite litigation to determine when a zero-hours contract is and isn’t exploitative. Legislation by adjective, especially the subjective adjective, is pretty damned.

Similarly, it is also committed to ending the practice of firing and hiring and outlawing as a just cause for dismissal, except when required to save business. What level of desperation does this require is unclear how close to bankruptcy you must be? [For the uninitiated, fire and rehire is where an employer terminates an employees contract in order to enforce a change to their terms and conditions of employment by offering to re-engage them on the new terms.] This is a practice which has been common practice for many years without much political protest; however, the practice was on the receiving end of considerable negative press for the way British Gas applied it to its gas engineers and so is now in the firing line itself (pun intended). While it may seem a simple enough job on the face of it to legislate for such a situation giving rise to unfair dismissal, it can only work if employers are very clear about when they can use that process and when they can’t. No evidence of this so far. For example, when reorganizations occur, changes may be made to a role so that it is no longer required in its current form, but the same number of roles may be created at a smaller level at a salary level that reflects this. This type of change, which was not intended as a fire-and-re-hire scenario, can be captured. If it is, then would an employer avoid this being the case if it reduced the number of roles it needed (at least in the short term) by 1, so that it could position this as redundancy and ensure that any layoff be outside the scope of any fire and reinstatement scenario?

Perhaps surprisingly, there are also some important changes proposed in relation to collective bargaining rights. First on the agenda is removing the higher thresholds set by the current government for a legal mandate for industrial action. What we will see as most significant, however, is the commitment to simplify the process of union recognition and also the necessary boundaries for this to happen. Currently a union must demonstrate that at least 50% of employees in the bargaining unit support recognition, while Labor is proposing that there be a ballot at the end of the recognition process and only more than 50% of those taking part in the vote will needed to vote in favor of recognition. In a climate where union recognition is somewhat resurgent, this could be a significant change. What it may also do is result in more recognition requests going to the CAC for determination, as with a lower bar and the final result depending on the votes of only those attending on the day, it will be very harder for employers to know. if a union has enough support to mean that they should recognize it voluntarily.

Other changes include a proposal to increase the time limit for bringing employment tribunal claims to 6 months, introducing ethnicity and disability pay reporting and changing the requirements around gender pay reporting to make it more meaningful. Labor is also committing to creating a single enforcement body for employment rights, a promise made by the current government several years ago but never delivered.

Labor has said it will introduce legislation dealing with employment commitments within its first 100 days in government and this is a repeated promise within its manifesto. At the same time, he has also referred to the need to fully consult with businesses, workers and civil society on how to implement its plans before adopting the legislation. It therefore seems highly unlikely that anything of real impact will happen so soon, given the need for that consultation to take place and that very careful and well-thought-out drafting will be needed to bring these proposals into effect. applicable, given the various changes. the complexities that surround them. What is certain, however, is that a Labor government would not rest on the issue of employee and workers’ rights. We just have to hope that he recognizes that good law is better than fast law and that if it takes more time to translate these principles into legislation that is clear and understandable, then time must be taken.

There is, of course, another question underlying all these promises. It doesn’t matter how many fancy new rights and protections you’re given if you don’t have the practical means to enforce them. The Employment Tribunal system is already on its knees in some regions and there is absolutely no chance that it will see a giant increase in funding from 5 July.that will be able to provide timely justice to the parties for all claims that should be anticipated as a result of these changes. No such increase is mentioned in the manifesto. Just saying.

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