With two weeks to go until the General Election, political parties are making a concerted effort to get their manifestos out to the public to convince voters that they are the right choice to lead. The Conservative Party have recently released their own manifesto, which could have a significant impact on the workplace and the way in which organisations manage their staff.
Although initially announced back in October, the Conservatives have reaffirmed their plans to increase the National Living Wage, which is the minimum amount payable to workers aged 25 and above and currently stands at £8.21 per hour. The party have pledged to increase this rate to £10.50 per hour by 2024, whilst also lowering the age threshold incrementally to 23 and above in 2021 and finally 21 and above by 2024. Whilst fewer age bands will make the system a little easier to understand, it means a significant increase in hourly pay for many workers, which some smaller organisations may struggle to achieve.
A new Australian style points-based immigration system has also been proposed in order to reduce the overall number of migrants and attract the ‘brightest and the best’ overseas workers. The manifesto insists this new scheme will mean fewer low-skilled migrants entering the UK, with places instead being prioritised to high-skilled individuals with desirable qualifications. Whilst this approach should ally fears over a lack of health-care professionals for the NHS, organisations who often rely on access to overseas staff for low-skilled work may suffer as a result.
The Conservatives have also promised to help working parents manage the cost of childcare by establishing a new £1 billion fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during the school holidays. There are also plans in place to strengthen the redundancy protections for women who return from maternity leave and allow parents to take extended leave for neonatal care. A new right to 1 week of leave has also been promised for unpaid carers, which could be a help to staff who currently have to juggle work and outside care commitments. These announcements could encourage many unemployed, or part-time, parents back into full-time employment, giving organisations access to a wider pool of talent.
A new £3bn ‘National Skills Fund’ has been promised, which is also designed to help organisations find and hire the workers they need. The Conservatives insist the fund would provide equal amounts for individuals and smaller organisations to access high-quality education and training, which could prove extremely beneficial in filling existing knowledge gaps in many key industries. The manifesto also mentioned planned improvements to the apprenticeship levy, although no further information was given.
The Conservatives have intentions on making the UK ‘the best place in the world to work’, according to their manifesto, and plan to achieve this by creating a single enforcement body to oversee employment law breaches and prevent worker exploitation. Plans also include ensuring workers can request a more flexible contract and consulting on introducing flexible working by default.
Whilst these announcements are obviously subject to the Conservatives winning the General Election on 12 December, it is wise for organisations to take note of these pledges. After all, keeping up to date with the latest political developments will allow organisations to adapt quickly and may prove vital to continued business success.