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The UK General Election is happening on July 4, 2024: What does it mean for Employment law?

In 2024 alone, we’ve seen plenty of changes to employment law, with Conservative plans for more to come, such as:

  • Neonatal care (leave and pay) Act 2023

  • Reform of industrial action laws

  • Back to Work plans and reform of fit notes

  • Reform of the umbrella company market

  • Continuation of the National Disability Strategy

  • Reintroduction of employment tribunal fees

  • Reform of non-compete clauses, with a 3 month limit to be introduced

  • TUPE reform

  • Address the definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010

  • Tips & Gratuities rules

  • Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

  • Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

  • Lowering the pensions auto enrolment age to 18

 

Further Bills being debated within Conservative circles include: the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill, Bullying and Respect at Work Bill, Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill and the Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill, alongside discussion about Fire & Rehire practices.

 

It remains to be seen which, if any, of these might become law in the future.

 

What does Labour’s Manifesto say about employment law?

The Labour Party’s current manifesto could significantly impact businesses of all sizes, with their Green Paper including approximately 60 proposed reforms to workers’ and employment rights.

 

Green Paper

The Labour Party’s position on employment law is set out in their green paper, ‘A New Deal for Working People’. At the last Labour Party conference, they committed to implementing the proposals set out in the new deal into an Employment Rights Bill within 100 days of forming a Government.

 

So what are the New Deal Proposals?

  • Creating A Single Status of Worker: Currently, there are 3 types of employment status – employees, workers, and the self-employed. Labour plan to amalgamate the categories of employee and worker to create one single status of ‘worker‘ who would have the same basic employment law rights. The only people outside of the new category of worker would be the genuinely self-employed.

 

  • Day 1 Unfair Dismissal / Redundancy Pay Rights: Currently, employees must have 2 years of continuous service before acquiring the right to bring a claim for unfair / constructive dismissal, and an entitlement to statutory redundancy pay. Under a Labour Government, workers would have these rights from day 1 of their employment.

 

  • Increase in Limitation Periods:  Labour proposes to double the current limitation period for most employment tribunal claims to 6 months minus 1 day (currently 3 months minus 1 day).

 

  • Removal Of the Statutory Caps: Labour plan to remove the statutory caps that currently limit the amount of compensation that can be received.

 

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Labour plan to make entitlement to SSP a day 1 right (as opposed to having to wait 3 consecutive days at present), to extend the right to SSP to all workers (including the self-employed) regardless of income (i.e. by removing the lower earnings eligibility threshold).

 

  • A Ban on Zero-Hours Contracts: Labour plan to ban zero-hours contracts – contracts with one sided flexibility or without any minimum in terms of guaranteed hours. Those who work for 12 or more weeks on regular hours will be entitled to a regular contract of employment to reflects the hours they work, as well as reasonable notice of change in shifts and working time, and compensation for cancelled shifts.

 

  • Acting to close gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps, permitting equal pay comparisons across employers where comparable work is carried out, and introducing mandatory publication of ethnicity pay gaps for all firms with more than 250 staff.

 

  • Increase In National Minimum Wage: An increase in the National Minimum Wage for all workers to a minimum of £10 per hour for all ages.

 

  • A Ban on The Practice Of ‘Fire and Rehire’: Enhancement of information and consultation procedures and adapting unfair dismissal and redundancy legislation to prevent workers being dismissed for not agreeing to less favourable contract terms.

 

  • Family friendly protections – extending statutory maternity and paternity leave, introducing a right to bereavement leave, making it unlawful to dismiss pregnant employees for six months after their return from maternity leave except in specific circumstances, and reviewing the shared parental leave system.

 

  • Strengthening existing rights and protections, including for pregnant workers, whistleblowers, workers made redundant and those subject to TUPE processes.

 

  • Raising awareness of neurodiversity and reviewing workplace provisions for stress, mental health and long COVID.

 

  • A Right to Switch Off: A legal right to switch off or disconnect would grant employees the right to disconnect from work communication and obligations outside their regular working hours. It aims to protect employees’ well-being and work-life balance by setting boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

 

  • Trade Unions: Strengthening the trade union right of entry to workplaces, simplifying the process of union recognition, strengthening the protections for trade union reps, and introducing a new duty on employers to inform the workforce of their right to join a union.

 

  • Also: A ban on unpaid internships, and protections against remote surveillance.

 

Whichever way the 4th of July vote goes, 2024 will continue to be incredibly busy for HR professionals needing to review and evaluate new regulations and how they impact on policies and practices.

 

Check out our other blogs in the series:

 

If you have any questions about employment law, get in touch via clientservices@robinsongracehr.com or ring us on 01793 311937.

 

The content of our blogs is intended for general information and not to replace legal or other professional advice.

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