Her Majesty the Queen set out the new Conservative Government’s programme of legislation for the next Parliament. So, what does the Queen’s speech mean for business? Some proposals impact employers. Indeed, one covering zero-hours contracts has already been implemented!
Zero hours contracts
We’ve already blogged on this topic, and debated it on local radio. Now we can report that as of 28 May 2015 employers can’t stop those on zero-hours contracts from working for other firms too. Exclusivity clauses are no longer enforceable. If you use zero hours contracts you should review the wording. Zero hours contracts have their place and when used correctly they benefit both employer and employee.
Referendum on European Union membership
Within the next two years the UK will vote to remain in the EU, or vote to leave. The Bank of England, along with many firms, has started a project to estimate the impact of leaving. Depending on who you listen to, leaving the EU will be anywhere from 9.5% loss through to 0.8% gain in GDP. The uncertainly caused during the run-up to the vote will impact firms, particularly those who have long-term contracts to sell into the EU or rely on the EU as a market. The worry there is the imposition of import tariffs on UK goods if we vote to leave. Future tariffs will squeeze profits. And there are concerns for jobs that rely on inward investment by firms using the UK to access the EU. The concern there is that they’ll relocate.
The consensus is that immigration has been good overall for the UK economy, bringing foreign workers to fill low-paid jobs that those already in the UK are reluctant to fill. There are however big concerns about illegal immigration. Process and procedures are to be put in place under an Immigration Bill to allow illegal workers’ pay to be seized. We know that immigration targets are being reviewed and numbers reduced in an effort to control the flow. The presence of fewer immigrant workers will impact many UK businesses. One large employer told TimelessTime that they rely on workers from other EU member states because otherwise they are simply unable to fill jobs like HGV and van drivers. Without the ability to employee EU nationals their business would suffer dramatically.
Equal Pay Legislation
Based on the Equality Act, firms employing more than 250 employees will be required to publish details of average pay for male and female employees. Small and medium sized businesses and public authorities will be exempt from such reporting. However, they are not exempt from the legislation. There should be no disparity in pay between men and women for work of equal value. If you’ve not done a pay and benefits analysis to prove equality between the sexes, it should be put on the agenda and conducted at the earliest opportunity. Just because you think you don’t discriminate does not mean that bias has not crept in to your rewards system. Anomalies should be identified and remedial action put in place.
The proposals discussed here will impact every business. It’s important for managers to understand how their own business will be affected. At the practical level, contracts may need to be changed, pay and benefits may need to be adjusted and manpower plans amended. And at the strategic, the very existence of the firm in the UK may need to be questioned.
TimelessTime can help; give us a call if you want to discuss any item raised in this blog. We can help you understand the implications of any part. And we can complete any work needed to adjust your business to accommodate the changes.