Employment Law General Election

Employment Law and the General Election


With the General Election a matter of days away, the three main parties have published their election manifesto’s. In this article we look at the three main parties plans when it comes to employment law.

The Labour Party

The Labour Party published its manifesto on 13 June 2024.

The most catching Labour policy is to reforming employment law within 100 days of entering office. Labour state that they will consult fully with businesses, workers etc before legislation is passed. The reforms will include banning exploitative zero hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and introducing basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal.

Further Labour say that they will strengthen the collective voice of workers, including through their trade unions, and create a Single Enforcement Body to ensure employment rights are upheld.

Giving employees a day one right from protection from dismissal (subject to a probationary period) would be a dramatic shift from the current position of requiring two years’ service. There is little further detail as to how this change will be enacted.

Labours manifesto also includes:

  • Making sure that minimum wage is a genuine living wage. They will do so by amending the remit of the independent Low Pay Commission so for the first time it accounts for the cost of living.
  • Removing the minimum wage age bands so that all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage.
  • Amendments to the Equal Pay Act 2010, with women’s equality being at the heart of their mission. Labour will take action to reduce the gender pay gap. They will also seek to strengthen protections from maternity and menopause discrimination and sexual harassment. There will also be a strengthening of protections for whistleblowers who report sexual harassment.
  • Introducing a Race Equality Act. The Act would give full right to equal pay for Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority people, strengthen protections against dual discrimination and root out other racial inequalities.
  • Introduce disability and ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers.
  • Introduce the full right to equal pay for disabled people.

Labour’s manifesto also included a pledge to implement Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People in full, which includes the following:

  • Increasing the time limit within which employees are able to make an employment claim from three months to six months, bringing the time limit for all claims in line with the time limit for statutory redundancy and equal pay claims.
  • Introducing a right to switch off, so working from home does not become homes turning into 24/7 offices.
  • Making flexible working the default from day one for all workers, except where it is not reasonably feasible.
  • Introducing a right to unpaid bereavement leave for all workers.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party published its manifesto on the 11 June 2024. The pledges that the Conservative party are making are not as far reaching as Labour. The manifesto sets out the following pledges:

  • By April 2027, take a further 2p off employee NI contributions.
  • To cut taxes to support the self-employed by abolishing the main rate of self-employed National Insurance entirely by the end of the Parliament.
  • To maintain the National Living Wage at two-thirds of median earnings in each year of the next Parliament.
  • The introduction of mandatory National Service for all school-leavers at age 18, with a choice between a competitive placement in the military or civic service roles.  
  • Creating 100,000 high-quality apprenticeships in England every year by the end of the next Parliament.
  • To never “introduce Labour’s package of French-style union rules”.
  • Amending the Equality Act 2010 to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex means biological sex. 
  • To overhaul the fit note process which under the new system, specialist work and health professionals would issue fit notes and not GPs.

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats published their manifesto on 10 June 2024. The manifesto sets out that a Liberal Democrat government would:

  • Replacing the broken apprenticeship levy with a broader and more flexible skills and training levy
  • Boost the take-up of apprenticeships, including scrapping the lower apprentice rate by thereby guaranteeing they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage.
  • Increase the National Minimum Wage for carers and for zero hours workers to compensate for fluctuating hours.
  • Giving a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months for ‘zero hours’ and agency workers, not to be unreasonably refused.
  • Setting a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours of work.
  • Established a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status in between employment and self-employment, with entitlements to basic rights such as minimum earnings levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement.
  • Shifting the burden of proof in employment tribunals regarding employment status from individual to employer.
  • Introducing ‘Adjustment Passports’ to record the adjustments, modifications and equipment a disabled person has received, and ensuring that Access to Work support and equipment stays with the person if they change jobs.
  • Doubling Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay to £350 a week and introducing an extra use-it-or-lose-it month for fathers and partners, paid at 90% of earnings.
  • Make all parental pay and leave day-one rights, and extend them to self-employed parents.
  • Give everyone a new right to flexible working and every disabled person the right to work from home if they want to, unless there are significant business reasons why it is not possible.
  • Encourage employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.
  • Encourage use of name-blind recruitment processes.
  • Require large employers to publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression.
  • Aligning the Statutory Sick Pay rate with the National Minimum Wage and making payments available from the first day of missing work rather than the fourth.
  • Making caring a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and requiring employers to make reasonable adjustments to enable employees with caring responsibilities to provide that care.
  • Introduce paid neonatal care leave.

What the future may hold

With Labour ahead in the polls, there is likely to be a substantial change in employment law in both the short and long term. Labours manifesto contains some far-reaching reform to employment law, aimed at enhancing workers’ rights and protections. The reforms are all part of Labour’s broader “New Deal for Woking People” aimed at improving job security, wages, and overall working conditions whilst fostering economic growth.

Whilst each party’s manifesto sets out their respective pledges, as the proverb often attributed to the German/American architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe goes ‘the devil is in the details’. Employers will have to wait to see what the detail looks like following the 4 July 2024.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Alex Pearce, Senior Associate in the Employment Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of June 2024.



Alex Pearce

Senior Associate

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