After a night of drama following the General Election result, the Conservative Party has gained a substantial majority of seats. Although the Conservative manifesto was rather brief, there are some indications about what the result will mean for employers.
The Chancellor, Sajid Javid MP, commented in a Radio 4 interview that he would be reviewing changes to IR35 which are due to come into force for private sector business in April 2020. This didn’t feature in the Party’s manifesto (which instead promised a general review of self-employed work) but it is possible that these reforms will now be delayed, changed or scrapped altogether. However, given the substantial preparation which businesses need to undertake to be ready for the new regime, we recommend that business continue with their preparation until further announcements are made. In the meantime, HMRC has updated its online CEST status checker tool, but the updated tool is still being heavily criticised by users for inaccuracy and inconsistency.
Family-friendly rights and discrimination law
The manifesto promised a consultation on making flexible working a default position for employers, a new right for parents to take leave when their child is in neonatal care, a right to unpaid leave for carers and possible enhancements to paternity and maternity leave rights. It remains unclear whether existing proposals (such as reforms to NDAs and harassment law) will be pursued or shelved.
The manifesto emphasised the Party’s commitment to achieving Brexit. The re-negotiated Withdrawal Agreement is likely to come before Parliament again shortly and it now appears likely that it will be approved. That means that the UK will leave the EU at the end of 2020. It remains unclear whether the new Government will have secured agreement on a trade deal by that deadline, in which case the UK would still leave the EU under a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The Prime Minister has emphasised his unwillingness to seek further extensions of time from the EU.
The manifesto emphasised that EU free movement rights will no longer apply in the UK or to UK citizens after the UK’s exit from the EU and indicated that a new ‘points-based’ immigration system would be introduced. How this would work in practice and how it would differ from the existing system is not entirely clear, but some new visa categories were mentioned, including an NHS Visa, fast-track entry to the UK to top science and technology graduates, a student visa enabling certain graduates to seek work in the UK post-graduation and a start-up visa for entrepreneurs.