The General Election – what could change?

16 April 2015

Zero hours contracts – watch this space…

Much has been made in recent weeks about zero hours contracts and whether they should be banned in their entirety or if legislation should be limited to banning “exclusive” contracts which prevent zero hours workers from working for more than one company.

The Conservatives are saying that zero hours contracts are already banned from being exclusive – a slight exaggeration as the clause banning such arrangements has not yet come into force. Labour has pledged to ban zero hours contracts for those who work regular hours, giving a legal right to a regular contract after 12 weeks service - and compensation to zero hour workers whose shifts are cancelled at short notice. If these provisions are enacted they will require careful drafting.

As the parties are taking such different stances, the future of zero hours contracts is uncertain. It really is a case of watch this space…

Tribunal fees, here to stay?

The Tribunal fee system could also be set to change, depending on the result of the Election. Labour’s recently published “Work Manifesto” pledges to abolish the “employment tribunal fee system”, however whether that means abolishing fees or just changing the system in some way is open to debate! The Liberal Democrats have suggested that the claimants should merely pay a nominal fee’ which presumably means a flat fee lower than the fees currently prescribed.

Tribunal fees have had a real impact on the amount of claims being brought, with overall claims dropping by 80% since their introduction. For employers this has been seen as good news, but critics argue that the fee system unfairly hinders individuals’ access to justice.

One such critic, Unison, has been granted permission to appeal the judgment from their application for Judicial Review of the decision to implement fees, the hearing for which will be held in June. The Court of Appeal will consider whether tribunal fees are
unlawful and if so, all fees paid by claimants in the employment tribunal will
be reimbursed.

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