Conservative Leadership Candidates and their Employment Law Pledges – Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson

Conservative Leadership Candidates and their Employment Law Pledges – Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson

There is every possibility that the new Prime Minister will be elected by the membership of the Conservative Party, on a candidate mandate no larger than the capacity of Wembley Stadium.  People may argue that this is not exactly an exercise in democracy, but the reality seems to be that the only way of changing this would be a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons.  Because of the Brexit paralysis, this does not exactly seem a very likely possibility.

We are therefore looking beyond the assumed Brexit to try and analyse the pledges of the leading candidates in so far as they can be deduced. Outgoing leader but acting Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to improve paternity pay to 12 weeks on 90% pay

From a legal perspective there is a fork in the road.  If a hard Brexit occurs, then we will be outside of the EU with no commitment to maintain any of the EU legislation despite the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 maintaining the status quo for the implementation period.  But if there is not one, all Acts of Parliament can be repealed .

If we exit with a deal (apparently still  the position of one the candidates), there will be a two-year implementation or transition period, when none of the employment legislation is likely to change to any great degree. 

Many of the rights imbedded in European Law were in place in any event, under UK Legislation.  This is particularly true on discrimination and data protection.  The one piece of legislation that conceivably would not have been brought into place was the working time directive, which forced us to look at a limit to the working week.  The minimum for paid holidays under the European Working Time directive is 20 days; when the UK implemented the Working Time Regulations, this subsequently became 28 days.

To crystal ball gaze as to future legislation, it is vital to consider the politics.  The Conservative Party is not likely to regain power in an election with a pledge to abolish employment rights for UK workers.  If the current incumbent government wants to win seats in the Labour Heartlands, it is not going to do this with a slash and burn approach to employment rights.  However the only clear steer from either the Hunt or Johnson camps has been competing pledges on tax.

So far as we can detect there have been no commitment on

  • National minimum wage
  • Trade union rights
  • Parental rights.

although Boris Johnson has told the BBC that he does expect much change in employment law.

We will return to the subject again when the fog of war clears.