In the run up to next month’s General Election it is inevitable that workers’ rights and benefits will get a mention in the manifestos of the various political parties. The most recent announcement from the Conservative party promises that employees would be entitled to a year’s unpaid leave to care for an elderly relative, but will that be a popular option ?
Currently when staff have a member of their family who is ill; it is down to the employer as to how flexible they will be in supporting them, but as a rule many business can and will support staff who have to juggle the often difficult role of employee and carer. For example, offering flexible working hours that fit with regular treatments or appointments is already a way that can keep an employee earning a salary whilst still being available to support their family member. Offering this leave may benefit employees of businesses who do not currently support them, but the fact that it is unpaid will not encourage a great take up – especially if they care for a partner who is also too ill to work, therefore leaving them with no income.
Other pledges include better rights for workers in the gig economy and two weeks’ paid leave for parents who lose a child, as well as a promise to ensure that workers will not lose any of the protections they enjoy under EU law.
Labour on the other hand are looking to bring in stronger rights for the Trades Unions as well as banning Zero Hours contracts.
While there has been a lot of negative press around the use of zero hour contracts and the restrictions that they can have on employees, it could be argued that in some industries, for example the hospitality industry, where situations change on a regular basis they are a great solution. Staff are not tied to work and can chose to work hours offered that suit them and their family or study commitments. For growing businesses they can be seen as a great way to bring staff into the business and then continue to work with them on a longer term basis, while the employee is studying for example, without the need to let them go at quiet times and take on additional staff at busy times.
Both the Liberal Democrats and the Women’s Equality Party are looking to extend paid leave for fathers to encourage more of them to take time to bond with their children after they are born. One of the reasons that it is believed that very few fathers have taken up any options around parental or shared parental leave is the fact that these are unpaid, extending the time off after the birth of a child to 4 or 6 weeks would be a step in the right direction, but there may still be a long way to go before fathers get any more than a couple of weeks off to spend with their new born baby.
As each party released their manifesto there will surely be more promises that will affect HR policies and workers’ rights. If you are concerned about how the General Election will affect your business, do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at First Call HR.