What will the general election announcement mean for HR?

On Tuesday morning Prime Minister Theresa May, after much trepidation, has announced that a general election will be held on the 8th June.

In a new move, May challenged opposition parties to accept an early election and said that it is “with reluctance that she called an election, but with determination that she will fight it”.

There will be a Commons vote on the proposed election on Wednesday.

May also accused the other political parties of “game playing”, adding that this risks the ability to make a success of Brexit:

I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.

YouGov’s most recent voting intention asked voters: ‘If there was a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

Image courtesy of YouGov

But what will the election mean for HR? How will the current policies in place be affected? Will the newly elected government hold a strong mandate to not only work with Brexit but to carry on with normal domestic business?

It is now down to the UK’s political parties to unveil their election manifestos, which will detail the policies they intend to adopt if they win a majority in the House of Commons in June. Until we await the new manifestos, some of these questions will remain in the balance.

We know little of Theresa May’s intentions, as the first months of her government have been devoted to Brexit and initiating the Article 50 process.

However, we do know that Theresa May is committed to social mobility and to creating a fairer, equal society. We can interpret this to mean that she intends to protect regulations that safeguard workers rights, which could be threatened by the Brexit process.

We can also potentially expect her to back policies that support working mothers, particularly in the area of childcare, and to continue in her pledge to help to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

And as the country’s second female Prime Minister, we can assume that she is in favour of policies that support women’s rights in the workplace, including backing the gender pay gap legislation announced on the 6th April.

HR departments may also worry that the decision could cause more tension and confrontation in the office between the ‘Brexiteers’ and ‘Bremoaners’. The issue is still something of a sore topic in offices, despite rules that politics should not be discussed. There is potential for more political arguments between staff which could cause agravation for the HR department and conflict resolution.

Alan Price, Employment Law Director of Peninsula commented:

The announcement of a motion for a snap election means employers, and employment lawyers, will be keeping an eye on the employment law announcements contained in parties’ manifestos as to what the future will bring. Conservative have previously announced that they will “protect and enhance” worker rights in the Brexit White Paper whilst Corbyn recently pledged to raise minimum wage for all to a minimum of £10 an hour by 2020 if Labour won the next general election. It will also be interesting to see what happens to current inquiries, including the Taylor review in to modern employment practices, to see whether these are continued or if, by focus shifting internally, important areas such as zero hours contracts, the gig economy and employment status are swallowed up by manifesto pledges and the reviews become redundant. Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will call the election to guarantee certainty and stability in the future however, in the short term, small business owners are going to be hit by another period of uncertainty.

Theresa May has so far proved herself to be something of an enigmatic Prime Minister. We are still not exactly sure where she stands on a whole raft of policy issues. Now she has fired the starting gun on a general election campaign, she is going to have to reveal her hand.

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