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Employment and the 2017 General Election

General Election | HR Solutions

The country is gearing up for voting in the general election on 8 June. But what do the main political parties promise to do for employment if elected? As not many of us actually read each party’s campaign manifestos, we’ve outlined the policies most likely to impact future employment in the UK.

Brexit and immigration

  • Conservatives: Will be sticking to pledges made in 2010 to cut net migration to tens of thousands. Also aims to double the immigration skills charge imposed on companies employing migrant workers in tier two. It will rise to £2000 by 2022. Plans to also enact the Great Repeal Bill, adapting EU law into UK law.
  • Labour: Will introduce legislation to guarantee that when employers recruit workers from abroad, they don’t undercut UK workers. Also plans to replace the Great Repeal Bill with an EU Rights and Protections Bill.
  • Liberal Democrats: Pledges to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK. Also intends to secure the same rights for UK citizens living in EU countries. Will hold a public referendum on any Brexit deal.

Holidays and wages

  • Conservatives: Will increase the national living wage to at least 60% of median earnings by 2022.
  • Labour: Would increase the national living wage to at least £10 per hour by 2020. This would apply to all workers aged 18 and over. Ban on unpaid internships. Also plans to introduce an excessive pay levy on companies who pay salaries of £330,000 and above, alongside a maximum pay ratio of 20:1 in public sector establishments. Also intends to introduce four new, additional public holidays to bring England and Wales more into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Labour and Liberal Democrats: Pledges to scrap the 1% pay cap on public-sector pay. Both parties also guarantee that these workers would receive pay rises in line with inflation.

Workers’ rights

  • Conservatives: Introduce measures to protect employees’ pensions. The party also offers guarantees that workers’ current rights will stay the same through the Brexit process.
  • Labour: Plans to scrap employment tribunal fees and to give all workers equal rights from day one. It also intends to ban zero hours contracts and unpaid internships. Will revoke the Trade Union Act 2016, ban umbrella companies and review redundancy arrangements and possibly increase statutory redundancy pay.
  • The Liberal Democrats: Scrap tribunal fees, stop abuse of zero hours contracts and give workers the right to request a fixed contract.

Employee welfare, childcare and parental leave

  • Conservatives: Give workers a statutory right to a year’s unpaid leave to care for a relative with illness or disability. Introduce a two-week period of paid leave for parents whose child has died. Intends to improve the use of shared parental leave and help companies offer more flexible working. Maternity and sick pay to be extended to self-employed workers. Also, reduce the requirement for employees to have suffered from a mental health condition for at least 12 months before they receive protection under the Equality Act.
  • Labour and Liberal Democrats: Both parties pledge to extend paid paternity leave to 4 weeks.
  • Labour: Plans to increase the rate of paid paternity leave and will consult on the introduction of statutory bereavement leave.
  • Liberal Democrats: The party will make shared parental leave and flexible working day one rights. They also plan to extend the Access to Work scheme, which aims to get people with disabilities into work.

Inclusion and diversity

  • Conservatives: Aims to get one million more people with disabilities into employment over the next 10 years. It will support employers to hire and retain employees with disabilities. The party will also review options to diversify civil service recruitment in terms of gender, race and social class.
  • Labour: Would introduce penalties for employers who fail to comply with gender pay gap reporting.
  • Liberal Democrats: Intends to get an additional one million female workers into employment by 2025. And for the civil service, the party also wants to introduce name blind hiring processes.
  • Conservatives and Liberal Democrats: Both parties plan to widen current pay gap reporting requirements, with large employers required to publish a race pay gap, and under the Liberal Democrats, also sexual orientation pay gap.

Pensions and tax

  • Conservatives: Intends to simplify the tax system and to increase the personal income tax allowance to £12,500, with the higher tax rate starting at £50,000. Would maintain the triple lock pension guarantee until 2020, then replace it with a double lock (so pensions will rise in line with earnings or inflation, whichever is highest)
  • Labour: Will lower the threshold for the 45p additional rate to £80,000 from its current level of £150,000.It would also reinstate the 50p rate of income tax on earnings above £123,000.
  • Liberal Democrats: Proposes a 1% rise in income tax to produce an extra £6 billion per year for the NHS.
  • Labour and Liberal Democrats: Both parties promise to protect the triple lock on state pensions (ie  to rise in line with wages, inflation, or by 2.5%, whichever is highest). Labour will also adjust company takeover rules to protect employees’ pensions.


  • Conservatives: Would introduce new technical skills qualifications, known as  T-levels. This would cover subjects such as health and science, creative and design, digital, construction, manufacturing and engineering. Also plans to establish new specialist institutes of technology and link them with universities across England. It also promises to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.
  • Labour: Plans to keep the apprenticeship levy. However, will ring-fence at least £400 million for small businesses.
  • Liberal Democrats: Pledges to develop first-rate apprenticeships and support the growth of sector-led national colleges for vocational education.


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