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Labour General Election Win: Employment Law Implications for Employers

July 05, 2024 | By: Becky Edwards

With Labour winning the 2024 general election we take a look at what they are proposing to introduce in regards to Employment Law changes.

Labour Party: Strengthening Workers' Rights

Since its Employment Rights (A New Deal for Working People) Green Paper in 2021, Labour has been clear that it intends to shake up the current employment law landscape. The Party has already committed to making robust changes within 100 days of entering government. With their election win this could be as early as October 2024.

The Labour Party has historically championed workers' rights and fair employment practices.

Allowing Unfair Dismissal Claims to be Brought as a Day One Right

Meaning that the existing 2-year qualifying period would be abolished. This is likely to be of great significance if taken in conjunction with the abolition of worker status (see next point below). This means anyone irrespective of their service and whether they have a protective characteristic, can bring an Employment Tribunal against your business. This could cost you significant amounts both defending the claim and in awards should you lose.

Status and Stricter Regulation of Gig Economy Jobs

Labour has consistently criticised precarious work arrangements typical of the gig economy. They are likely to introduce stricter regulations to ensure gig economy workers receive similar protections and benefits as full-time employees, such as sick pay, holiday pay, and minimum wage guarantees. In doing so they will seek to abolish ‘worker’ status as distinct from ‘employee’ status.

The Right to Disconnect

Labour is keen to replicate rules similar to those of Belgium and Ireland, providing for a Code of Practice allowing employees to disconnect from work outside of normal working hours and thus supporting the now established section of the workforce working from home.

Employment Tribunal reforms

To potentially include the extension of time periods, increases caps/ tougher penalties, and penalties against individual directors. See more on plans for employment tribunal reforms here .

Enhanced Rights for Trade Unions

Labour is likely to strengthen trade unions' role in workplaces. This could include easier processes for union recognition, greater protection for striking workers, and more robust collective bargaining rights. Employers might need to engage more proactively with unions and prepare for potential increases in industrial action.

Other proposals include:

  • Ban on Zero-hour contracts.
  • Outlawing fire and rehire practices.
  • Increasing SSP and making it available for self-employed.
  • Outlawing unpaid internships except if via education.
  • Payment for travel time.
  • Payment for sleep over hours.

What Does All of this Mean for Organisations?

“Similar to when Labour last got into power in 1997, there could be a big shift in employment laws in the UK and there is a chance that some of these changes will come into play in the next 100 days.

Probably the most significant change for employers is the pledge to make unfair dismissal a ‘day one right’. Most employers and employees know about the “2 year rule” which gets whispered around the office. However, bringing unfair dismissal as a day one right would allow employees to lodge claims against employers almost immediately.

In creating a new legal obligation for employers, this day-one right would result in a need to closely monitor and implement fair procedures and processes to address possible disciplinary or performance issues before ultimately dismissing employees.

Existing contracts would also need to be audited to ensure robust probation and termination clauses. Employers may look to extend probationary periods that they usually have in place to allow them to assess a new employee over a longer period which could help protect them.

This could put employers in a stronger position if an employee bought an unfair dismissal claim. The removal of the two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims would also lead to even higher use of settlement agreements to resolve a situation where a dispute has arisen.

It could also lead to an increased need for organisations to seek further protection such as external employment law advice and protection.

We believe our client base will be seeking more advice and also utilising Wirehouse’s ‘Advice Guarantee’ more frequently. This advice guarantee protects businesses by providing cover for Preparation and Representation in an Employment Tribunal and covering awards and compensations as long in any case where they have worked with us and applied our advice."

Saul Malpass - Head of Marketing - Wirehouse Employer Services

If you need more information about the upcoming changes or how we can help and protect your organisation call 033 33 215 005 or email websiteenquiries@wirehouse-es.com

Image credits: REUTERS

About the Author
Becky Edwards
Becky Edwards
Becky Edwards, Author at Wirehouse Employer Services

Becky started her career supporting access to the workplace for disabled applicants and employees. From there she progressed into an Employment Law role advising organisations on contentious HR issues, implementing Terms & conditions and HR policies and delivering HR training. Becky has also accrued several years’ experience defending businesses at Employment Tribunals enabling her to be able to give advice with a strong understanding of the potential legal pitfalls.