• The Labour Party has published its “Labour’s Plan to make work pay” paper.  This is, in essence, its employment law manifesto for the coming election and if elected there will be some significant employment law changes.

    In comparison, the Conservative Party are yet to share their manifesto. Their position has mainly been outlined in their Spring Budget and press announcements.

    We outline some of the key proposals for both parties below.

    Labour’s employment law proposals

    Labour have outlined the following:

    Timing- Labour intends to introduce legislation within 100 days of entering government.  We note that “introduce” and finalise and implement are not the same thing.  Therefore, the practical timescales for any of these new laws coming into force could be much longer.

    Day one Unfair Dismissal Rights- Labour has stated they want to introduce day one rights to all workers by ending the two year requirement so that employees can access protection against unfair dismissal, parental leave and sick pay. Without specifically saying so, this indicates the current two year requirement for normal unfair dismissal law rights will be removed and replaced with day one rights.  This would be the most radical change to unfair dismissal laws in over twenty years. The key here will be what the fair and transparent rules and processes will require of employers to be able to lawfully dismiss employees in the early stages of their employment.  No details are provided.

    • Collective/Trade Union Rights- It is clear that material changes to compulsory recognition are planned to make it much easier for trade unions to gain formal recognition.  Less clear are the details on how wider trade union rights will be strengthened, albeit it is clear that is the intention.  This is likely to include making it easier to ballot for and instigate industrial action.
    • Rights for trade union to access workplaces- Labour plans to introduce rights for trade unions to access workplaces in a regulated and responsible manner, for recruitment and organising purposes.
    • Duty on employer to inform employees o rights to join a union- Labour proposes to introduce a new duty on employers to inform all new employees of their right to join a union, and to inform all staff on a regular basis.
    • Banning zero hour contracts- Once again the devil will be in the detail but an absolute ban on zero hours contracts does seem to be the current plan.
    • Banning fire and re-hire- Not just a code of practice (which is the current governments approach) but an actual ban.  There is no detail as to how this will work or apply or how businesses are meant to change terms, other than by agreement, which is not always realistic, to ensure their survival.
    • Changes to collective redundancy consultation laws- Labour plan to strengthen redundancy rights and protection. No other details provided.  This would mean the collective consultation rules applying in more cases than at present when judged across a whole employer and not just each workplace (establishment).
    • Statutory sick pay- Labour plan to remove the lower earning limit to make it available to all workers and remove the waiting period.
    • Right to Switch Off- Labour want to stop working from home into becoming 24/7 offices, similar to Ireland and Belgium.

    Labour also have changes planned for TUPE transfers, whistleblowers, sexual harassment, protection for pregnant workers (making it unlawful to dismiss a woman who is pregnant for 6 months after return), health and safety duties to the self-employed and ban on unpaid internships. However, limited details are available.

    Conservative’s employment law proposals

    The Conservatives have not yet disclosed their manifesto. The following points have been noted from press announcements:

    • During the Spring Budget, it was announced that National Insurance will be cut by a further 2%. Additionally, the party abolished non-domiciled individuals tax regime.
    • Prior to the announcement of the election, the Conservative’s proposed minor reforms to TUPE and the abolition of European Works Council in the UK. Due to the impending election, it is not clear what will happen although consultation is taking place.
    • The Conservative Party backed a bill to provide enhanced paternity leave to fathers whose partner dies in childbirth. It passed to law ahead of the Friday 24 May deadline.
    • The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 is a new legislation that will give employees and workers a right to request a predictable work pattern. The act aims to protect workers who have a lack of predictability regarding their working patterns, such as workers on zero hours contracts. The legislation is due to come into force in Autumn 2024. However, it is not clear whether this would be the case if Labour were to win.
    • Conservatives have announced they aim to get people with health conditions back to work as a priority.

    Further guidance and support

    Employment law changes frequently, our team of employment experts can reduce the burden of compliance and support you in protecting your business and supporting your employees.

    For more in-depth employment law guidance or advice, book a free 30-minute consultation with our Employment team today.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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