Jun 20

What might the General Election mean for employment law?

The election manifestos are here ready for the General Election on 4th July – but what do they have to say about employment law and what changes might we be looking forward to?

Below is a summary of some of the key focuses:

The Conservatives propose:

  • Changing the ‘fit note’ system to move responsibility from GPs to other healthcare professionals
  • Continuing implementation of minimum service level agreements during strike action
  • Reducing employee’s national insurance to 6% from 2027
  • Removing national insurance for self-employed people by the end of the next parliament

The Conservatives also have a number of proposals which, although not technically employment related, will likely have a knock on effect on employment and businesses:

  • A year’s mandatory national service for 18 year olds
  • An update to the Equality Act 2010 to make it apply only to biological sex
  • A cap on visas granted which will reduce each year

The Liberal Democrats propose:

  • To increase minimum wage by 20% for zero hour contracts
  • Statutory Sick Pay from day 1 with no lower earnings limit
  • All parental leaves from day 1 and to double statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay. Paternity leave would also have one month paid at 90% salary
  • To create a new worker status of ‘dependent contractor’ with rights to basic entitlements like sick pay and holiday but who aren’t an employee
  • Giving employees the right to request shares if they work for a listed company with 250+ employees
  • To reverse the burden of proof in employment tribunals, meaning an employer would have to prove a person is not an employee (rather than the person proving they’re an employee)
  • To extend blind name recruitment
  • Updates to the equality act to add the protected characteristic of ‘caring’.
  • To require large companies to publish gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year diversity targets
  • To introduce specialist disability employment support and simplify the access to work scheme, ensuring support and equipment provided stays with the person if they change jobs.
  • ‘Adjustment Passports’ to record the adjustments, modifications and equipment a disabled person has received

Labour have proposed:

  • Heavily restricting zero hours contracts and a right for employees to have a contract which reflects the hours they regularly work, based on a twelve-week reference period
  • Ending fire and rehire procedures
  • To introduce a day 1 right to sick pay, parental leave and unfair dismissal and introducing a right to unpaid bereavement leave for all
  • A requirement for employers with more than 250 employees to have a menopause action plan
  • Altering the criteria for determining national minimum wage and removing age bands,
  • To extend tribunal time limits from 3 to 6 months
  • New duties on large employers to produce ethnicity and disability pay gap reports
  • Making collective redundancy consultation requirements dependent on the number of redundancies across the whole business rather than the number at each ‘establishment
  • Introducing a right to switch off from work
  • To make flexible working a default right unless employers have a good reason to refuse it

There are also some quite specific details around trade unions including:

  • A requirement for the statement of terms and conditions given to new hires to inform them of their right to join a trade union
  • Reversal of the changes made under the Trade Union Act 2016 and abolishing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023
  • Removing the requirement for fully postal ballots for industrial action and making it easier for unions to gain recognition by removing the requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote on recognition need to vote in a ballot for it to be valid for recognition
  • A right for trade unions to access workplaces for recruitment and organising purposes 

Reform have proposed:

  • A promise to abolish IR35 rules to support sole traders
  • To scrap thousands of laws that hold back British business and damage productivity, including employment laws that make it riskier to hire people
  • To replace the Equality Act 2010 to reduce discrimination in the form of positive action and save money spent on Diversity and Inclusion roles
  • Scrap EU Regulations
  • To increase employers’ national insurance for hires who aren’t British citizens in non-essential roles

Along with these, they would also make the following related changes:

  • Lift the income tax starting threshold to £20,000.
  • Freeze all non-essential immigration

Green Party have proposed:

  • A Charter of Workers rights to replace anti-union legislation with the right to strike and a legal obligation for employers to recognise trade unions.
  • A maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private- and public-sector organisations
  • An increase to the minimum wage to £15 an hour irrespective of age. This would be offset for small businesses by reducing their National Insurance payments.
  • Equal employment rights for all workers from day 1, including those on zero-hours contracts.
  • A move to a four-day working week.

It remains to be seen at the beginning of July which party gain majority control how quickly they start to make changes. If and when we know more, we’ll be working with our clients to implement what’s needed. If your business could do with some help too, get in touch with us!

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