The people have voted – now prepare your people for the impact

Kimberley WallaceDramatic and impactful; that was both the events on Election Day, as well as the implications of its outcome to the housing sector.

The most significant of these implications will be dealing with the impacts of right to buy, household benefit caps cut, and a further £12billion of welfare savings. But have you considered what other, perhaps less obvious, introduced policies could affect the future of your organisation and your people? Let us take a look at some of the key pieces of legislation the Conservatives are implementing that could influence and change UK legislation and employment rights over the next few years…

Equality and family friendly policies

  • Equal pay; from March 2016 it will be a mandatory requirement for organisations with over 250 employees to publish information about their gender pay gap. This could have significant impact on the sector, and registered providers should be considering conducting equal pay reviews to fully understand the situation in their organisation.
  • Childcare; the Childcare Bill promises to double the current allowance for free early education / childcare for 3-4 year olds increasing from 15 to 30 hours each week (for 38 weeks of the year) where both parents work. This will be rolled out to start in 2016, a year earlier than originally planned. Employers may see, and benefit from, an increase in staff availability from 2016, particularly from staff who have previously worked part time or on a flexible basis for childcare arrangement reasons. Organisations may wish to ensure their family friendly policies are comprehensive in advance of these changes.
  • Volunteering; The Conservative Manifesto proposed plans for public sector and large company staff to be given three paid volunteering days per year. Though this didn’t feature in the Queen’s speech, if the Government does introduce this later, employers are expected to cover the cost. However, employers can reap benefits from such an initiative; volunteering programmes are known for increasing staff engagement and morale. Housing associations could use this to further support their organisational values and corporate social responsibilities.

Wages

  • Personal tax allowance; will be increased to £12,500. This means employees working 30 hours a week on National Minimum Wage will not pay income tax.
  • Minimum wage; is set to increase to £8.00 an hour by 2020, which means it is increasing above the rate of inflation for the coming years.
  • Higher tax rate; the Conservatives pledged to increase this to £50,000 (formally £41,900) by the end of 2020, meaning the mid-paid employee bracket will become financially better off.
  • Redundancy; six figure redundancy payments awarded to senior public sector workers will be capped at £95,000. Local authorities will be directly impacted and housing associations may come under pressure to adopt a similar approach.

European union and EU legislation

  • EU Referendum; a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU will take place before the end of 2017, the outcome of this will affect any UK legislation derived from EU directives. Although we can only speculate what the outcome might be, there could be potential changes to the employment statuses of non-UK nationals. If the UK left the EU, such workers’ rights to remain could be challenged.
  • Human Rights Act; though the Conservatives have delayed plans to introduce a ‘British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’, if it does return to the legislative programme later in this parliament; its passing would replace the Human Rights Act 1998. This will break the formal link between the British courts and the European Courts of Human Rights, making the Supreme Court the ultimate Arbiter of UK human right issues. This could affect rights such as privacy in the workplace.

Summary
Due to the requirement for legislation to be passed first, it may be too early to predict specific impacts for housing associations and local authorities. But despite the uncertainty of the timing of the proposed changes, being prepared and aware of the impact to your organisation and employees in advance will be beneficial.

Altair provides HR and Organisational Excellence consultancy services for housing sector clients across the UK and Ireland. To find out more, or if you have any HR needs that you would like to discuss, please contact Michael Appleby on 07545 314 749 / michael.appleby@nullaltairltd.co.uk or Kimberley Wallace on 07585 954 218 / kimberley.wallace@nullaltairltd.co.uk.