What could the General Election mean for employment law ? Guidance for employers

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Home > Knowledge Hub > What could the General Election mean for employment law ? Guidance for employers

Election manifestos have been published this week ahead of the General Election on 4 July 2024.

Whilst all of the parties have put forward proposals about changes to current employment related legislation, it is clear that the most far-reaching changes would come into force under a Labour Government.  Labour had already produced their “plan to make work pay” in May, and workers’ rights also feature heavily in their manifesto as part of their plan to kickstart economic growth.

With Labour predicted to win the Election with a large majority, it is highly possible that many of Labour’s proposals will come into force in the coming months.  They have promised new legislation in the “first 100 days.”

We have summarised the key pledges and proposals of the three parties below to assist employers in understanding possible upcoming changes. 

Labour

Labour states they are “pro-worker and pro-business” and that they will work in partnership with trade unions and businesses to deliver the “biggest upgrade to rights at work for a generation”.  Key pledges include:

  • Banning zero hours contracts to ensure that everyone has a right to have a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work, based on a 12-week reference period.
  • Ending “the scourge of fire and rehire and fire and replace which leave working people at the mercy of bullying threats” by introducing a stronger code of practice and effective remedies against abuse in this area.
  • Enhanced day one rights.  This includes the right to claim unfair dismissal from day one subject to the right of the employer to operate probationary periods “to assess new hires”.
  • Extending the timeframes to bring employment tribunal claims from 3 to 6 months and improving enforcement of worker rights with a new single enforcement body.
  • Introducing the single status of worker, with a two-tier system which means that an individual is either a worker or self-employed.  This is intended to reduce the legal complexities in this area and guard against “a minority of employers using novel contractual forms to avoid legal obligations”.
  • Strengthening rights which apply in redundancy situations and where TUPE applies.  In particular it is proposed that collective consultation obligations will be triggered by the number of redundancies proposed across a business rather than in individual workplaces.
  • Increased protection for whistleblowers and employees who report sexual harassment.
  • New rights for the self-employed including the right to a written contract.
  • Enhanced “family friendly rights” including making flexible working the “default”, extending the right to parental leave, better protection against dismissal for employees taking maternity leave, introducing the right to paid carers leave, and introducing bereavement leave for all workers.
  • A new “right to switch off” to stop working from home from “turning the home into a 24/7 office”.
  • Regulation of AI in the workplace.
  • Implementation of a real living wage that people can live on.  This will involve requiring the Low Pay Commission to take into  account the cost of living when setting the national minimum wage rates, removal of the various age bands and improved enforcement.
  • Better statutory sick pay to include removal of the waiting period and extending the benefit to employees who do not currently earn enough to qualify.
  • Stronger legislation of the fair allocation of tips.
  • Banning unpaid internships save where they are part of an education or training course.
  • Addressing the recruitment crisis in adult social care by introducing a new fair pay agreement in this sector to improve conditions.
  • Updates to trade union legislation to remove unnecessary restrictions on trade union activity.
  • Committing to improve equality in the workplace with enhanced rules on equal pay, pay gap reporting and a requirement for large employers to put in place menopause action plans to support working women through this period.
  • Modernising health and safety rules including in relation to harassment at work.
  • Bringing Jobcentre Plus and the National Careers Service together to provide a national jobs and careers service, focused on getting people into work and helping them get on at work.

Conservatives

The Conservative manifesto has much less to say on employment law issues than the other main parties.  Employment related pledges include:

  • Further reductions in National Insurance, cutting this by a further 6% by 2027 for employees and abolishing the tax entirely for the self-employed.
  • Give working parents 30 hours of free childcare a week from when their child is nine months old to when they start school.
  • Funding 100,000 high-quality apprenticeships for young people, paid for by “curbing the number of poor-quality university degrees that leave young people worse off.”
  • Protecting female-only spaces and competitiveness in sport by making clear that sex means biological sex in the Equality Act 2010.
  • Updates to the fit notes system so that workers are not being signed off sick as a default. It is proposed that there will be a new system which moves the responsibility for issuing fit notes away from GPs towards specialist work and health professionals, together with a new Work Well service to provide tailored support to help people stay in or get back to work.

Liberal Democrats

Whilst not as far reaching as the Labour proposals, the Lib Dems have made various pledges which they say are aimed at modernising the workplace.  Key pledges include:

  • Establishing a new “dependent contractor” employment status. This would sit in between the employed and self-employed. A dependent contractor would have the entitlement to basic rights such as minimum earning levels, sick pay, and holiday entitlement.   It is not clear how this differs from the current status of worker.
  • New rules for zero hours workers to compensate for the uncertainty in work, including introducing an enhanced payment rate in certain situations and the right to request a fixed hours contract.
  • Establishing a new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority. Their responsibilities would include the enforcement of minimum wage, tackling modern slavery, and protecting agency workers.
  • Introducing sector specific strategies to address specific needs and improved conditions for care workers to address the recruitment crisis in this area.
  • Reforming the apprenticeship levy with a more flexible system and improving pay and conditions for apprentices.
  • Doubling Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay to £350 per week.
  • Enhancements to Statutory Sick Pay rights including removing the waiting period and bringing the amount payable in line with National Minimum Wage.  Improvements will also be made to the access to work scheme.
  • Expanding parental leave and pay, which would include making these Day 1 rights.
  • Encourage large employers to adopt a model of “employee ownership” and require large employers to publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets.
  • Introduce new Equality Act protected characteristics of ‘caring’ and ‘care experience’.

We will keep you updated with progress on these proposals once a new Government is in place. Taylor Walton’s employment law team is able to assist you with any queries relating to the proposals.

Disclaimer: General Information Provided Only
Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.

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