Liberal Democrat election manifesto: Key implications for employers

The Liberal Democrats have launched their election manifesto.

The document, Change That Works For You – Building a Fairer Britain, contains four key pledges: fairer taxes, more chances for children, a fairer and greener economy, and cleaning up politics.

There are a number of employment-specific pledges:

Regulation

  • Like the Tories, the Lib Dems promise to “reduce the burden of unnecessary red tape”, by assessing the cost and effectiveness of regulations before and after they are introduced, using ‘sunset clauses’, and working towards the principle of ‘one in, one out’ for new laws.
  • They would also scrap the compulsory retirement age, allowing those who wish to continue to work to do so.
  • Employers will be required to accept ‘anonymous’ job application forms to reduce sex and race discrimination in employment, initially for every company with more than 100 staff.

Pay and pensions

The Lib Dems standout pledge is to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000, but there are a number of other measures on pay:

  • Introducing pay audits for every company with more than 100 staff to combat discrimination in pay
  • Public sector organisations required to declare in full all remunerations of £200,000 a year or more
  • A £400 pay rise cap for all public sector workers, initially for two years
  • Reforming public sector pensions to ensure they are sustainable and affordable for the long-term, with an independent review to agree a settlement.
  • Set the minimum wage at the same level for all workers over 16 (except for those on apprenticeships).

There are also a number of pledges on pay specific to certain sectors:

  • Ensure that the bonus system in the financial sector can “never again encourage banks to behave in a way that puts the financial system at risk or offers reward for failure”
  • Tackle the gender pay gap at all levels of scientific study and research to help increase the supply of scientists
  • Reform “rigid” national pay and conditions for teachers, allow institutions to attract and retain the best, while ensuring that all staff receive at least the minimum national pay award.

Employment

  • The Lib Dems say they have identified £3.1bn of public spending that can create 100,000 jobs.
  • The green stimulus plan will also create 100,000 jobs – for example, by investing up to £400m in refurbishing shipyards in the North of England and Scotland so that they can manufacture offshore wind turbines and other marine renewable energy equipment.
  • The creation of a work placement scheme with up to 800,000 places would pay young people £55 a week for up to three months.

The party also pledges to:

  • Fully meet the up-front cost of adult apprenticeships (currently partly covered by the employer).
  • Give disabled jobseekers better practical help to get into work, using voluntary and private sector providers, as well as Jobcentre Plus. The Access to Work scheme will be reformed, so disabled people can apply for jobs with funding already in place for the equipment and adaptation they need.

Flexible working

The Lib Dems intend to:

  • Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, making it easier for grandparents, for example, to take a caring role.
  • Give fathers the right to time off for ante-natal appointments.
  • Allow parents to share the allocation of maternity and paternity leave between them in whatever way suits them best.
  • Protect existing childcare support arrangements, until the nation’s finances can support a longer-term solution – a move to 20 hours’ free childcare for every child, from the age of 18 months.

Immigration

The party plans to:

  • Introduce a regional points-based system to ensure that migrants can only work where they are needed.
  • Crackdown on rogue employers that profit from illegal labour.

The Conservatives launched their manifesto yesterday, while Labour unveiled theirs on Monday.

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