Legal Update - A Three Horse Race
6th May 2010
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With the opinion polls seemingly narrowing by the day and the result looking moreand more like a hung Parliament, it is getting increasingly difficult to predict who will hold sway tomorrow. This is particularly worrying for employers, as a new government with new ideology could have a dramatic affect on the workforce. This article tries to predict the shape of the law over the next few years, starting with some proposals that will almost certainly become law; then progressing onwards to those trends that we will see irrespective of who is in power, and finishing with the more nebulous policies that are unique to each party.

The obvious place to start is with the number of pieces of Labour Party legislation, passed in the dying days of the last parliament, that are set to come into force over the next few months, unless a subsequent government repeals them quickly enough.

The first, and most high-profile, is the Equality Act, which consolidates all previous discrimination legislation into one act of parliament. We have looked at this act in detail in past alerts but it is worth noting that this remains quite contentious, despite having been put on the statute books before the cessation of the last Parliament. However, the main provisions of the Act do not come into force until October 2010, with some sections being delayed until April 2011 and others not coming into force until as late as 2013, giving any future government ample opportunity to amend the legislation if it so desires. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are in favour of the Act but the Conservatives have been vocal opponents throughout its life in Parliament and are likely to alter it significantly if they win the election.

Although predicting future policy is always difficult, it is likely that a Conservative government would not implement the Public Sector Equality obligations (concerning socio-economic discrimination) and all the Equal Pay Transparency provisions. It is also likely that they would alter the definition of religious discrimination to remove protection for philosophical beliefs; scrap most of the positive action provisions and more than likely alter the genuine occupational requirement sections. Aside from that, the interventionist ethos of the act is largely antithesis to Tory ideology and they tabled a motion in May last year to scrap the whole thing entirely.

So, whereas they may not remove the act from the books completely, the
Conservatives have historically been hostile towards the Act and it is likely that it would be significantly altered should there be a Conservative government tomorrow

About the Author

Isabella B

Member since: 11th April 2012

I'm Isabella, I live in Bury and I have an interest in all things local and current.

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