BLOG

General Election 2024 – What employment law changes might be expected?

Here are some of the key potential employment law changes which Labour and the Lib Dems are proposing following the General Election 2024.

HR Initiatives
10/06/2024

The hot topic at the moment is the General Election, which was announced last month. Although it’s obviously too early to say exactly who will win, or whether we might see another coalition, the parties are starting to announce their priorities if they come to power, and in terms of employment law there may be some big changes.

Here are some of the key potential employment law changes which Labour and the Lib Dems are proposing.

Labour

The Labour Party have said that they would introduce an employment law bill within the first 100 days of power if they win the election. The key changes within their ‘New Deal for Working People’ include:

Day One Rights

Ending the requirement for two years’ service for employee’s to access protection against unfair dismissal, parental leave and sick pay.

Businesses would still be able to make fair dismissals, including for reasons of capability, conduct, redundancy and within probation.

What does this mean:

Employers would need to make sure they have probationary periods in place, with fair and transparent rules, and ensure that employees within their probationary periods are adequately managed to make sure they are performing within the role.

Likewise, many organisations would have to focus on implementing robust performance management procedures, unable to rely on short-service dismissals to exit under-performing employees.

Absence management processes would need to be reviewed as all employees would be entitled to SSP from day one.

Businesses will need to consider the additional administrative burden; policies, handbooks, recruitment practices and employee supervision will all need to be reviewed to ensure compliance.

Family-friendly rights

Flexible working and parental leave would be a day one right, and all employees would have the right to bereavement leave (currently there is a right to parental bereavement leave only).

Labour have also said that will examine the benefits introducing paid carer’s leave (currently it is unpaid).

What does this mean:

There may be an additional administrative and financial burden on businesses.  Policies would need to be updated.

Reforming Employment Status

Combining ‘employee’ and ‘worker’ status under one umbrella and providing additional statutory rights and protections for those on more casual working arrangements.  

What does this mean:

Businesses would need to re-evaluate their contracts and working practices, and it may lead to increased costs for many businesses, especially those reliant on flexible working arrangements.

Banning Zero Hours Contracts

Labour have said they will ban zero-hour contracts and ensure that contracts reflect the number of hours regularly worked based on a twelve-week reference period. 

What does this mean:

This may present a significant financial impact on many organisations who rely on the flexible nature of zero hours contracts.  

As with the single worker status, employers will need to review their recruitment and working practices and consider how to use other types of contract, such as fixed term contracts, to fulfil their organisational requirements.

Preventing Fire and Rehire

‘Fire and rehire’ is the practice of an employer making an employee redundant and then re-engaging them on reduced terms and conditions.

The Conservative government was set to bring in a Code of Practice in July, however Labour have said that they will strengthen this if they come to power.

What does this mean:

Labour have said that it is important that businesses can restructure to remain viable, preserve their workforce and the company when there is genuinely no alternative, but this must follow a proper process.

Introducing the Right to Disconnect

The proposal to make the right to ‘switch off’ from work (outside contracted working hours) a legal right and protect employees from surveillance (eg, email monitoring).

What does this mean:

Organisations would need to review their home working policies and ensure they have a right to disconnect policy.  They may need to consider implementing a culture change programme, and consider having wellbeing policies and/or initiatives in place.

Fair Pay

An increase to the minimum wage so that it becomes a living wage.  They would change the Low Pay Commission’s remit so that the minimum wage will reflect the need for pay to take into account the cost of living. They would also remove the age bands so that all adult workers benefit.

What does this mean:

This may represent a big challenge to many SMEs financially.  

Tribunal Claim Limits

The extension of the time period to bring claims to an employment tribunal from 3 months to 6 months.

What does this mean:

The extension would provide both employers and employees more time for negotiations and may mean more claims are settled outside of tribunal, however it also means that some organisations may find themselves with more claims.

Additionally:

Reform and simplification of trade unions, potential strengthening of employee rights under redundancy and TUPE, proposals to implement personal liability for Directors who were Directors of the company at the time of an alleged act or breach.


Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems have proposed less employment law reforms than Labour, however they have said that they wish to strengthen ties with the European Union, seek to join the Single Market and bring down trade barriers with allies.

They would give all workers the day one right to flexible working and have proposed tax reforms.


Will any changes happen immediately?

No. Although Labour have said they will propose a new bill within 100 days, there is still a lot of uncertainty about detail and legislation by any government will have to be passed through Parliament.

However, it is possible that we could see draft legislation as early as autumn this year.


What steps can you take to prepare?

  • Review your current recruitment processes and your new starter onboarding, including probation periods and notice periods.
  • Review your performance management, appraisal, misconduct, grievance and redundancy procedures.
  • Consider how you will resource any additional administrative tasks such as wide scale policy reviews, flexible working requests, etc.
  • Tackle any serious performance issues before any new laws come into force.
  • Check director’s liability insurance to ensure it covers liability for tribunal awards.

Next Steps

If you have any questions, or would like support with any of the above, then please do get in touch.


HR Initiatives logo

HR Initiatives provides expert HR advice to SME businesses. The team of HR professionals have extensive experience in HR management and help businesses navigate a safe path through the minefield of HR.

www.hrinitiatives.co.uk

Was this helpful?
share this
Sign up to receive our recruitment sector outlook
Includes hot topics, guest contributors & legislative updates
  • "*" indicates required fields

    Consent*
    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Contact us to get started

    Give us a call
    0845 606 9632
    Send us an email
    hello@recruitmentaccountants.com
    Stay Informed
    Sign up to receive the latest industry updates, events and publications.
    SIGN UP