18 September 2014 #Employment
It has been interesting that the trade unions have generally maintained neutrality in the independence debate, leaving the issue to their members individually, although the RMT notably has supported independence.
However, as Scots voters go the polls today, whether or not Scotland votes for independence it seems unlikely that current laws on discrimination, working time and TUPE will remain the same north and south of the border. These are matters underpinned by European Directive.
But what about unfair dismissal laws, tribunal reform and family friendly legislation? The Scottish Government’s White Paper, “Your Guide to an Independent Scotland” (November 2013), states that the Scottish National Party would, if re-elected post-independence, reverse some of the recent changes to employment protection that “reduce key aspects of workers’ rights”.
Even if Scotland does not vote for independence, the promises made by the main political parties in Westminster for devolution raise the prospect of differences emerging in certain areas of employment law between different parts of the UK. The qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims in Scotland could possibly revert to 12 months or the cap on compensation of 12 months pay could be lifted. Labour has pledged to scrap the fee regime in the employment tribunal system after the next general election but with the Scottish Labour party proposing that control over the administration of employment tribunals (though not the substance of employment law) be devolved if there is a “no” vote, that raises the prospect of Labour perhaps getting its way in the Scottish Parliament, even if it does not in Westminster.
So, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, it may be that a consensus will emerge in Scotland that a reversal of the Coalition Government’s reforms on employment law should be brought about. That may include the level of tax deductions made by employers north of the border.