What the General Election Could Mean for Businesses & Employers

After months of uncertainty for organisations, the Prime Minister has finally called a general election which will take place on July 4th. But what does it all mean for businesses and what do employers need to know? Gaynor Beckett of Han Law explains what might happen based on the pledges from the two main political parties, and outlines what employment law changes could be on the horizon.

Conservative Plans

While the Conservative party has said little about its plans for employment law, we can assume that if it holds its place in parliament and wins re-election, the current legislative agenda regarding employment law would continue and could bring into force previous manifesto commitments.

Current employment law government priorities for 2024/2025 include:

  • Reform of industrial action laws.
  • Agency Workers and Strikes.
  • Neonatal care leave and pay.
  • Back to Work plan, including proposed reform of fit notes.
  • Reform of the umbrella company market.
  • Discrimination Law including addressing the definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010.
  • The reintroduction of Employment Tribunal Fees.
  • Continuation of the National Disability Strategy.
  • Reform of post termination non-compete clauses.
  • TUPE reform.
  • NDA Disclosure Agreements.
  • Whistleblowing.

In addition to the above, several other Bills are still working their way through parliament and include Bullying and Respect at Work, Fertility Treatment, Carers Leave, Neonatal Care, and Paternity Leave concerning bereavement. It is worth noting here that should the Conservatives fail to be re-elected the new government may progress some of these proposed Bills.

Labour’s Vision

With ambitious plans to reform workers’ rights, we can expect employment law to be a crucial element of Labour’s election campaign. It has already promised to place its “New Deal for Working People” at the heart of its government plans, setting its vision for employment law and labour market regulation. The New Deal green paper sets out a significant number of proposed wide-ranging reforms to employment law pledging to “strengthen workers’ rights and make Britain work for working people”.

Labour pledges to introduce an Employment Rights Bill within their first 100 days in office and is pro-worker and pro-business with plans to work in partnership with businesses and trade unions to deliver its New Deal.

Key plans should include the following.

  • Unfair Dismissal and Redundancy Rights.
  • Tribunal Limitation Periods.
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
  • Employment Status.
  • Predictable Working Patterns.
  • Flexible Working Rights.
  • Fire and Rehire Ban.
  • Trade Union Support.

A Host of Other Reforms:

In addition to the above Labour also suggests it will consider.

  • Fair Pay Agreements, focusing on collective bargaining in sectors like adult social care.
  • Right to disconnect from work outside of working hours, potentially through an ACAS Code of Practice.
  • Measures to tackle gender, ethnicity, and disability pay gaps.
  • A single enforcement body for workers’ rights.
  • Mental health parity with physical health in the workplace
  • Ban on unpaid internships.
  • Review of the shared parental leave system
  • New laws to protect interns and volunteers from sexual harassment.

It is worth noting however, that some of the plans Labour outlined in its New Deal have already been implemented, at least in part, by the current Government (for example, changes to paternity leave and increased redundancy protections for pregnant workers).

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Labour Party will take office and, if so, how many of these proposals will be brought into force. Public consultation is likely to be needed before many of these proposals can take effect, so, as we await the manifestos and their commitments with bated breath, it goes without saying that both parties’ proposals, if implemented, will see a great deal of change to employment law in the next few years.

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