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Election 2024: What Labour’s victory means for employment law

With the sound of champagne corks still popping at Labour Party HQ following their overnight victory, attention swiftly turns to the proposed changes to employment law which Labour has pledged to implement within the first 100 days of their administration.


Labour's proposed changes promise to bring significant shifts, impacting both employers and employees. While we await the precise details of the proposed changes, we can infer Labour’s intentions based on their manifesto. If, and it’s a big if, they roll out all the changes proposed, employers will need to start preparing for what will be a seismic shift in employment law.


The top ten changes we envisage may be:


  1. Day One Employment Rights: Perhaps the biggest proposed change sees basic rights such as unfair dismissal protection, parental leave, and sick pay to be extended to all workers from the first day of employment


  1. Ban on Zero Hours Contracts: Labour aims to prohibit exploitative zero hours contracts. It is proposed that workers will be entitled to contracts that reflect their regular hours worked over a twelve-week period.


  1. Increase in the Employment Tribunal limitation period: The proposal is to increase this from three months to six.


  1. Fire and Rehire Practices: Labour plans to tighten restrictions on the practice of firing employees only to rehire them on less favourable terms. They propose that only in genuine restructuring scenarios, where there is no other alternative for a business to remain viable would the process be allowed.


  1. Strengthening Trade Unions: Unsurprisingly the manifesto includes measures to enhance trade union rights, including easier recognition processes, stronger rights of access to workplaces, and repealing recent Conservative trade union laws.


  1. Single Enforcement Body: Labour proposes the creation of a Single Enforcement Body with extensive powers to ensure compliance with employment rights and take action against exploitation.


  1. Equal Pay and Discrimination: Labour intends to extend pay gap reporting for organisations with more than 250 staff to include ethnicity and disability, require action plans for gender pay gaps, and ensure outsourced workers are included in pay comparisons. They also plan to address racial and disability pay gaps, and strengthen protections against discrimination.


  1. Minimum Wage: An adjustment to the minimum wage to reflect the cost of living, with the removal of discriminatory age bands to ensure all adults receive the same minimum wage.


  1. The Right to Disconnect: Employees will have the right to switch off and disconnect from work communications outside of working hours.


  1. Additional protections on return from maternity leave: Make it unlawful to dismiss a woman for six months after her return to work following maternity leave.


We await further detail on Labour’s proposals and the time frame for how quickly they can get their proposals passed into law. What is clear is that there is likely to be a significant shift in the employment landscape, and employers will need to consider and prepare themselves for a number of changes. 


Further proposed changes such as ending the three-tier status of Employee, worker and self-employed and reducing it to a more simplified approach of worker or self-employed are likely to be subject to consultation, given the knock on effect for tax. 


As we navigate this period of transition, it is crucial for business owners and HR professionals to stay informed and be proactive about the forthcoming changes to employment law under Labour.


The proposed reforms aim to enhance worker protections and ensure fair treatment, which will require significant adjustments in employment practices. Employers should begin reviewing their current budgets, policies and contracts, consider the potential impact on their workforce.


We will continue to highlight the changes in our free employment law bulletins and over our socials in the coming months. If you have any questions in relation to the above changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.


The Labour party manifesto can be read here: https://labour.org.uk/change/

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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