The Conservative and DUP deal - employment law implications

An overview of the employment law implications following the General Election 2017.
Following the General Election on 08 June 2017, which resulted in a hung parliament, the Conservative Party has now agreed a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and remains in power. During their campaign, Teresa May claimed that her government would provide “the greatest expansion in workers' rights by any Conservative government in history". But how will the new deal impact their plans for employment law reform?

The deal is not a “coalition” with the parties agreeing a joint programme of legislative change. Rather, the DUP have agreed to back the Conservatives in key votes, such as motions of confidence and the Budget, and other matters are to be agreed on a case by case basis. As a result, the deal is unlikely to lead to any major shift in the employment law plans outlined in their manifesto and summarised briefly below:

  • The current framework of workers’ rights will be protected post-Brexit. The DUP’s manifesto supports this, also stating that it supports “the UK to lead the way in improving this framework as it has throughout history”. The Great Repeal Bill will convert all EU law into UK law at the point of Brexit.
  • The National Living Wage (NLW) will continue to be increased in line with the current target to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020, and then by the rate of median earnings. The DUP supports these increases, as well as “firm action” against companies who fail to pay the NLW.
  • New statutory rights will be introduced for employees to take unpaid leave to care for a sick relative, and to take child bereavement leave.
  • The right to request unpaid time off for training will be extended to all employees. The right only currently applies to employers in Great Britain with 250 or more employees, and there is no equivalent right in Northern Ireland.
  • Once the Taylor review has been concluded, action will be taken to protect those working in the gig economy. 
  • The Pensions Regulator will be given new powers to ensure that pension funds are protected.
  • Listed companies will be required to improve employee representation at board level, either by way of an advisory panel, non-executive director or directly appointed worker representative. 
  • The remit of the directors’ remuneration regime will be extended so that executive pay packages are subject to annual votes by shareholders.
  • The remit of mandatory gender pay gap reporting will be extended and will include a new requirement for employers to report on pay disparities between people from different ethnic backgrounds (race gap reporting).
This will be revised and updated as more detail becomes available.

Employment law in the UK - ahead of the curve sets out the key changes to employment law that are in the pipeline, summarising the proposals, the impact that they will have and the next steps that are anticipated.

A timeline of all anticipated developments in employment law is available here.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.