With the Conservatives winning a majority of the seats in Parliament I think most contractors and recruiters breathed a sigh of relief firstly because the result brings certainty after a long period of uncertainty. The stock market reacted well to the news that another election was not needed and share prices went up. But more importantly because the Conservatives are almost certainly more contractor friendly than the Labour Party promised to be.
In the run up to the election Ed Miliband and some unions made sweeping negative statements about the recruitment industry and umbrella companies without really understanding how they work or the benefit they bring to the UK economy. Hopefully the Conservatives will engage with the industry to better understand it and the impact of implementing legislation before the consequences are fully understood.
So what can we expect in the New Parliament that may affect the Recruitment Industry:
- An increase in the minimum wage to £8 by 2020
- Restrictions on the use of zero hours contracts
- An obligation for large companies (250 employees) to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees
- Support the retention of fees at Employment Tribunals (other parties threatened to change this), subject to the outcome of the judicial review appeal this year.
- In/out European Union referendum by end 2017
- Industrial relations changes including 50% or more must vote in all strike ballots
- End the ban on using agency staff to cover for essential striking workers;
- Volunteering leave would require public sector employers and companies with more than 250 employees to give staff up to three paid days-off a year to do voluntary work ("volunteering leave").
- A consultation on whether contractors should get tax relief on travel and subsistence costs
Prior to the election we put forward our views on the appropriateness for contractors of the current tax rules on travel and subsistence to a number of MPs. Obviously we will liaise with the new government in respect of any proposed changes which may affect our contractors.