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How could the General Election affect the Recruitment Industry?

What are the main proposals from the major political parties which may affect the Recruitment Industry?


Zero hours contracts

  • They will eradicate exclusivity in zero hours contracts. Therefore any exclusivity clauses will be deemed to be unenforceable.

Agency Workers

  • They will repeal “nonsensical restrictions” which ban employers from using agency workers to cover striking employees.


Agency Workers

  • Labour intends to “make it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages by closing the loopholes in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 that mean workers who are paid between assignments are excluded from the protections of the regulations”. Labour first set out its plans to remove the “Swedish derogation” from the Agency Workers Regulations back in November 2014. The Labour manifesto emphasises that Labour will abolish the loophole that allows companies to undercut permanent staff by using agency workers on lower rates of pay.

Other plans to reform the use of agency workers include:

  • Banning agencies from exclusively recruiting from overseas.
  • Cracking down on rogue recruitment agencies who exploit their workers by cutting wages and conditions, by introducing a series of measures including a licensing system and extending the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority where necessary.

Migrant Workers

Labour is committed to:

  • Ensuring there are fair rules at work to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers and reducing the demand for low skilled migration.
  • Making it a criminal offence to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers. It will bring in a new law to prevent such exploitation.
  • Ensuring migrant workers jobs and conditions are no worse than local employees.
  • Work in Europe “to ensure the rules on the posting of workers from abroad that prevent jobs and conditions being undermined at home are effective”.

In a campaign speech on immigration on 18 April 2015, Ed Miliband has pledged to set up a Home Office investigative unit to target the illegal exploitation of migrant workers, if a Labour government is elected. The team of more than 100 police officers and specialists from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority will have more powers to stop the abuse of workers and increase the prosecution of employers who breach employment laws. The unit would comprise of enforcement officers taken from the 1,000 newly recruited border agency staff announced by Yvette Cooper in March 2015. This announcement corresponds with Labour’s manifesto pledges to put an end to exploitative practices that undercut wages and conditions for agency and migrant workers (see above).

Zero hours contracts

  • Labour will restrict the “exploitative” use of zero hours contracts by ensuring that workers who work “regular hours” in their first 12 weeks of employment are given a “regular contract”. The Labour manifesto refers to those working regular hours for more than 12 weeks being entitled to a regular contract.

It also plans to:

  • Introduce new legal rights for workers on zero hours contracts, to stop employers forcing workers to be available at all times or cancelling shifts at short notice without compensation.
  • Monitor employment practices to see whether employers are increasing the use of short-term contracts and, if so, take steps to prevent this.

Liberal Democrats

Zero hours contracts

  • The Party will stamp out abuse of zero hours contracts and will create a right for workers to request a fixed term contract.
  • It will consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time.
  • Recently, they stated they will consult on how best to tackle rogue employers that try to avoid any new restrictions on zero hours contracts. No further detail is given in the manifesto.

Workers’ rights

The Lib Dem manifesto refers to the need for a “highly skilled workforce and flexible business support”. One of the ways it proposes of achieving this is by providing support to medium sized businesses through a “one-stop-shop” for accessing government support, a dedicated unit in HMRC and the development of management skills. At the annual conference in 2014, Vince Cable announced plans for a “one stop shop” to enforce workers’ rights. The new Workers’ Rights Agency would streamline the work of four existing bodies: the national minimum wage enforcement section of HMRC, the Working Time Directive section of the Health and Safety Executive, the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate and the Gangmasters Licensing authority. This detail is not included in the manifesto.

The Party has also announced an intention to double the number of employer inspections to ensure statutory employment legislation is being complied with in relation to migrant workers.


Zero hours contracts

“UKIP recognises that zero hours contracts suit many people, we will not ban them”. It proposes to introduce a legally binding Code of Conduct setting out the following:

  • Businesses who employ 50 people or more must give workers on zero hours contracts a full or part-time contract after one year, if they request it.
  • A ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.
  • Workers must be given at least 12 hours advance notice of work. Once this notice has been given, they must be paid for the work, regardless of whether they are given any work. Employers will not be able to turn away a worker who is expected to turn up for work, if no work is available.

UKIP has previously pledged to repeal the Agency Workers Directive. The manifesto states that agency workers have been penalised due to the increased use of zero hours contracts by employers as a way of escaping the requirements of the EU’s Temporary Agency Workers Directive which gave agency workers the same workplace rights as employees.

Under UKIP’s proposals the Temporary Agency Workers Directive would no longer apply to agency workers as the UK would no longer by subject to European laws as a result of leaving the EU.

Care workers

UKIP will not allow the NHS or third parties to employ home care workers on zero hours contracts. It will ensure these workers receive the national minimum wage, by being paid for the entire time they are on duty and not being expected to travel in their own time.


Zero hours contracts

  • SNP will support action to end unfair and exploitative zero hours contracts, by launching a time-limited consultation, involving businesses and trade unions, to agree the most effective way forward


Zero hours contracts

The Green Party states it will

  • End exploitative zero hours contracts. There is no further detail provided.

and finally…
…it all seems to have gone quiet on the travel and subsistence payment front… I am sure not for long!

How could the General Election affect the Recruitment Industry?

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