Radical proposals and changes to some of our employment laws may arise in light of Theresa May’s premiership: corporate governance, executive pay, collective rights and inclusion responsibilities look set to change. None of these proposals, outlined in the Prime Minister’s two most recent speeches (in Birmingham on 11th July when she launched her short lived leadership campaign, and outside Downing Street on Wednesday 13th July) have anything to do with getting more freedom from EU laws. This is despite the new Secretary of State for Exiting the EU also saying there will be no radical change to employment law once we leave. This is a purely domestic and UK agenda.
Mostly it is a recognition that the Referendum was a vote for “serious change” and Mrs May’s vision of “a country that works ….for every one of us “and not just a privileged few. The focus will be on accountability of executives and their remuneration, responsible business and giving employees a greater say. Changes to the employee relations landscape are afoot.
More obligations for Inclusive workplaces
The PM’s focus goes beyond the gender pay gap (on which new Regulations for large employers are imminent http://www.hrlaw.co.uk/site/infobank/infobankarticle/gender-pay-reporting-new-obligations-and-issues-for-employers . It is wide ranging and includes those with mental health conditions, the educationally disadvantaged and the younger generation. Social mobility will come under greater scrutiny to include a review of Board appointments where executives are “In practice..drawn from the same, narrow social and professional circles”. Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander’s Women on Boards Committee may find it has a wider remit.
On age, there has already been a call from the Women & Equalities’ Select Committee for employers to be required to report on the pay gap by reference to age groups as well as for part- timers. Once the new reporting requirements are up and running, it may well be an easy model to adapt and add to.
Holding employers to account
Mrs May has mentioned both workers’ rights (greater job security ) and shareholder rights here, getting tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business and addressing exploitation. This is likely to lead to legal changes:
Putting employees in control
Perhaps the most significant change suggested so far is that of giving workers a stake and greater say in their employer and the business, which would require something radical: “we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but employees as well. The PM has drawn particular attention to the need for this in merger and takeover situations.
This will require new law going beyond the current collective bargaining and domestic works councils’ provisions and the current obligations on consultation with union and employee representatives. It may lead to stronger rights and penalties.
Will we move to some of the continental models?
These changes will not be limited to unionised environments and could indeed lead to radical changes and significant challenge for business leaders, HR and legal teams alike.
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