Labour plans for changes to Employment Law

What Employment Law Changes Can We Expect To See Now We Have A Labour Government

Now Labour have won the general election this post reviews Labours proposed changes to employment law. The Labour party manifesto for the 2024 General Election was published on 13 June 2024, and pledged to introduce legislation in parliament within 100 days of forming a government to bring in the proposed changes.

The table below outlines Labours key proposed changes to employment law.

Single Status of Worker
Proposed Change

Current Position
A single status of worker will be created for everyone except the self-employed. Everyone within the single status will be entitled to the same benefits.

A consultation will also be undertaken to determine how a simpler framework to differentiate between workers and self-employed.

There are currently three categories of worker: ‘worker’, ’employee’ and ‘self-employed’.

The proposal will remove the distinction between the existing worker and employee categories leaving two employment statuses of worker and self-employed.

Zero Hours Contracts
Proposed Change

Current Position
Eliminate zero hours contracts to ensure all jobs provide a minimum level of job security and predictable hours. The plan is for workers to have contracts that represent the hours they usually work, based on a 12-week reference period and receive reasonable notice of any change in shifts or working time, with compensation proportionate to the notice given for any cancelled shift. A zero hour contract is type of casual worker contract under which someone is engaged without there being a minimum level of guaranteed work or pay. In 2015, the Conservative government banned exclusivity clauses in these types of contracts, meaning zero hours workers were free to work for other organisations. Currently, any rights that workers have in relation to shift scheduling will depend on the contractual terms in place or the shift policy in operation.
National Minimum Wage
Proposed Change

Current Position
Change the Low Pay Commissions remit to ensure the cost of living is taken into account when recommending annual increases to the NMW Rates. The age bands will also be removed creating one single hourly rate regardless of age. Currently the age bands are: 16-7, 18-20 and 21+.
Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave
Proposed Change

Current Position
Enhance maternity protection to prohibit dismissal for 6 months following a return to work from maternity leave; except in specific circumstances.

Make Unpaid Parental Leave a day one right.

The ability to dismiss a woman returning from maternity leave will still be permitted but the circumstances when it would be permitted are not defined as yet.

Unpaid parental leave will continue to be unpaid.

Bereavement Leave
Proposed Change

Current Position
Extend the entitlement to bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is currently only available to parents following the death of a child.
Sick Pay
Proposed Change

Current Position
Strengthen Statutory Sick Pay by removing the ‘lower earnings limit’ and waiting days before SSP is paid. Currently employees whose earnings are below the lower earnings limit are not entitled to SSP; for those who do qualify the first 3 days of any period of sickness are unpaid.
Right to Switch Off
Proposed Change

Current Position
Introduce a right for workers to switch off which would include a right to not routinely work outside normal working hours and not to be contacted outside normal working hours. In the UK, workers are already protected by various means including limits to working time, the requirement to provide breaks, right to respect for private and family life and an employer’s duty of care to look after their employees’ health and safety. However, there is currently no right to disconnect.
Unfair Dismissal
Proposed Change

Current Position
Workers will be protected from unfair dismissal from day one of employment.

The proposed new rules will require an employer to have a fair reason and follow a fair process when dismissing an employee, regardless of length of service.

Labour have said that probationary periods with a fair and transparent process will not be prevented, so we should still be able to assess new recruits and dismiss them when necessary without going through the full disciplinary or capability procedure.

Employees who feel they have been unfairly dismissed will be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

Currently employees are protected from unfair dismissal after accruing two years continuous service.

Fire and Rehire Practices
Proposed Change

Current Position
Provide remedies against abuse of fire and rehire practices. The intention had been to ban fire and rehire practices; but the proposals confirm they will be permitted in circumstances where there are genuinely no alternatives.

While much of the detail and ways in which Labours proposed changes to Employment Law will be introduced remain awaited, should Labour win the election, it is clear this will bring about some significant changes to UK employment law.

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Labours proposed changes to Employment Law

Kathryn

Kathryn is a highly experienced HR Manager with a wealth of skills and knowledge acquired across a variety of industries including manufacturing, health and social care and financial services. She has worked in small localised business and larger multi sited organisations and is comfortable liaising with senior managers and union officials as well as answering queries from team members. Connect with Kathryn on:

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