How Our Government Are Changing Employment, Wages And Zero Hour Contract Rules
And so the general election came . . . and went. The promised weeks of uncertainty didn’t happen, which seemed to confuse the media at least! As the Conservatives remain in power, albeit by themselves, will it be business as usual?
Not necessarily. A large proportion of the voting population is in employment or is an employer so all parties were keen to show they had employment law covered in their election manifestos. As the blue party came out top, let’s have a quick look at their election pledges:
Currently the minimum wage is £6.50 an hour. The Conservatives have said that it’s on course to reach £8 per hour by 2020 – an increase of 23%. They’ve also said they will encourage employers to pay the living wage. The living wage is an hourly rate independently calculated and set annually. For this year (2015) it’s £7.85 an hour (£9.15 in London).
The Conservatives have addressed this with a very black and white approach: companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees.
Zero Hours Contracts
According to ACAS a zero hours contract is generally understood to be a contract between an employer and a worker where the employer is not obliged to provide the worker with any minimum working hours and the worker is not obliged to accept any of the hours offered. The Conservatives have said that they will scrap exclusive zero hours contracts – those that prevent the worker from working for other organisations while under contract.
What Could This Mean For You?
As a small business, some of these policies may affect you more than others.
Take the increase in the minimum wage – if you had to give your staff who were on the minimum wage a pay increase of 23% would you still break even? Does this affect your recruitment plans for the next five years?
The equal pay policy may not affect you if you’ve under 250 employees, but many small businesses employ women on flexible working hours which, rightly or wrongly, tends to keep them in less senior positions. What would the morale in the office be like if you had to publish the average pay of men vs women?
If you rely on exclusive zero contract workers to fill gaps in your workforce during busy periods then there’s a real chance you won’t be able to do this any more – those workers might be employed elsewhere. You’ll either have to give them a standard contract or use agency staff – both may cost your business