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Employment Law Changes- What will change with the 2024 Election?

Updated: 2 days ago


The UK Election is almost upon us, so here's a round up of how employment law could change under any of the new parties, and the existing one...


The Labour Party


The Labour Party's 2024 manifesto outlines several significant changes to employment law under its "Plan to Make Work Pay" (MWP). Here are the key proposals:


Day One Rights


Labour proposes extending basic rights, such as unfair dismissal protection, parental leave, and sick pay, from the first day of employment for all workers. Currently, many of these rights are only available to employees after a certain period of service. Changing unfair dismissal laws could have a massive impact on the way that employment law works in the UK and could push people to manage poor performers quickly before the new law comes in. Of all the proposals, this one has the potential to have the most impact.


Work-Life Balance


A "right to switch off" will be introduced to promote a better work-life balance. This would allow workers to disconnect from work communications outside of regular working hours. Other countries like France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Kenya.


Minimum Wage and Pay Equality


Labour plans to ensure the minimum wage is a genuine living wage by adjusting it according to the cost of living and removing age bands. Additionally, they will introduce mandatory gender, ethnicity, and disability pay gap reporting for large employers​. You can see the current National Minimum wage rates here.


Zero Hours Contracts


Labour intends to ban exploitative zero hours contracts, ensuring workers have contracts reflecting their regular hours over a twelve-week reference period. This includes provisions for reasonable notice of shift changes and compensation for cancelled shifts. It's not yet clear what their view of 'exploitative' looks like.


Worker Classification


Labour aims to simplify the employment status system, reducing it to two categories: workers and the genuinely self-employed. This would extend more rights to a broader range of workers, including those in the gig economy​.


Fire and Rehire


The practice of "fire and rehire" will be outlawed, but companies will still be allowed to restructure when necessary, provided they follow a proper process involving dialogue with employees. This aims to prevent companies from dismissing and rehiring workers on less favourable terms. The current government has proposed to reform this law, although we're yet to see changes as yet.


The Conservatives


National Service


The Conservatives plan to introduce national service for those over 18 years old for a 12 month period. This would either be via community service or military training. Those doing community service would be required to do one whole weekend a month for 12 months volunteering.


National Insurance Cuts


The manifesto promises a 2% cut in employee National Insurance contributions by April 2027, reducing it to 6%. Additionally, it aims to abolish the main rate of National Insurance for the self-employed. These measures are intended to provide financial relief to workers and self-employed individuals. National Service in the UK ended in 1963, so we've not had this practice in place for over 60 years. Understandably, these plans have been met with concerns.


Fit Notes


The party is proposing a new approach to fit notes is proposed, shifting responsibility from GPs to specialist work and health professionals to better assess the interplay between health conditions and work capabilities. It's not clear how health professionals will be recruited to manage this initiative.


The Equality Act


The Conservatives intend to amend the Equality Act to clarify that the term "sex" refers to biological sex. This aims to protect female-only spaces and maintain fairness in competitive sports, ensuring consistency across UK legislation. It's not clear what's prompted the need to protect female spaces.


Apprenticeships


The Conservatives plan to fund 10,000 more Apprenticeships in England by curbing 'poor quality' University degrees.


The Liberal Democrats


Employment Status


Introduce a new "dependent contractor" status, providing gig economy workers with basic rights such as minimum earnings, sick pay, and holiday entitlement​. 


Family Friendly Rights


  • Make all parental leave and pay "day-one" rights, double statutory maternity and paternity pay to £350 per week, and extend these benefits to self-employed parents and kinship carers​. The labour party manifesto also talks about making changes to day one rights.

  • Add "caring" and "care experience" as protected characteristics under the Equality Act, protecting those with caring responsibilities from discrimination


Statutory Sick Pay


Remove the minimum earning threshold for SSP, align the SSP rate with the National Minimum Wage, and make payments available from the first day of sickness absence​. 


Minimum Wage and Zero Hours Contracts


Increase the National Minimum Wage by 20% for zero-hour contract workers during normal demand periods and allow zero-hour and agency workers the right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months.


Apprenticeships


Replace the apprenticeship levy with a broader, more flexible skills and training levy, and scrap the lower apprentice rate of the national minimum wage.


Employee Ownership


Encourage employee ownership schemes to give workers a stake in their companies and offer grants and tax incentives to small businesses to help them adapt to new regulations​.


Full Party Manifestos  


Want to know more, have a look at the full manifestos here:



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Disclaimer

  • All information within the post is provided for guidance only; always seek your own legal advice.

  • The information with this post was correct at the time of publishing, July 2024 but may be subject to change.




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