Five HR issues to watch in the UK general election – CIPD (blog)

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From rights for parents to tribunal fees, the main points to consider ahead of 8 June

With the general election looming, political parties are upping the ante to win over votes. As well as covering topics like Brexit, education and the NHS, their lengthy manifestos also contain a slew of promises specific to the modern world of work.

Here’s a round-up of what the politicians have said about some of HR’s most pressing issues:

Time off for new parents

Balancing being a new parent with work is no easy task and politicians were quick to recognise this in their manifestos. The Conservatives pledged to encourage more workplaces to offer flexible working. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has promised to extend paid paternity leave to four weeks from its current two and increase the level of paternity pay. The Liberal Democrats said that, if elected, they would make paternity leave and shared parental leave a right from day one of employment, and introduce an additional ‘use it or lose it’ month to shared parental leave to encourage more fathers to stay at home with their newborns.

However, the parties may face an uphill battle getting their policies to land with the public at large. HMRC figures revealed that just 3,000 parents utilised shared parental leave during the first three months of 2016, compared with 155,000 mothers who took maternity leave and 52,000 fathers who took paternity leave during an equivalent three-month period in the tax year 2013-14.

Minimum wage

The national living wage, which was introduced in April 2016 for employees aged 25 and over, is currently £7.50, but many of the parties want to increase it. The Tories have promised to raise the national living wage to 60 per cent of the median wage by 2020, while Labour has pledged to raise the minimum wage for under-25s to match an over-25s rate of £10 by 2020. The Liberal Democrats have said they will introduce a ‘good employer’ kitemark, encouraging employers to avoid unpaid internships and pay the living wage.

Employment tribunal fees

Since employment tribunal fees were introduced in summer 2013, the number of cases headed to tribunal has plummeted. Government figures show that just 44,020 type A and type B cases were brought in the first year after the fees were introduced, compared with 124,931 cases the year before. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to scrap employment tribunal fees.

Women’s rights at work

A poll published last March by Investors in People found that 83 per cent of women feel gender discrimination still exists in the workplace, while a 2017 report by Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio for the Harvard Business Review found that women are 1.4 times more likely to receive negative feedback in annual performance reviews than men.

The Conservatives introduced gender pay gap reporting to address these issues, and will increase the number of returnships aimed at women with children, while Labour has pledged to strengthen protections for unfair redundancy against women. The Scottish National Party, led by Nicola Sturgeon, has promised to enforce laws to help protect women from discriminatory practices and redundancies, as well as introduce the legal right for women to breastfeed at work. Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas, co-leaders of the Green Party, have pledged to close the gender pay gap, which government statistics recorded as 9.4 per cent in 2016.

Zero-hours contracts

According to think tank the Resolution Foundation, the number of people on zero-hours contracts hit 910,000 in late 2016. The Green Party has pledged to ban zero-hours contracts, which it believes are exploitative, and Labour would also abolish them, alongside unpaid internships. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to create a right for those on zero-hours contracts to request a fixed contract.

Join People Management and CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese at 2.30pm this afternoon for a Twitter Q&A on the general election. Use #PMelection to follow the conversation

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