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Looking into the Future of Employment Law after the Election

Ahead of the upcoming general election Laura Darnley and Caroline Shafar, look at the key employment changes pledged by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.


The Conservative’s manifesto has indicated a few changes.

  • Reduction in employee national insurance to 6%
  • Maintenance of the National Living Wage at two-thirds of median earnings in each year of the next Parliament.
  • Re-defining “sex” in the Equality Act to be biological sex.
  • Continued implementation of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023
  • The creation of 100,000 high quality apprenticeships in England by the end of the next Parliament.
  • A new system of fit notes so the responsibility no longer falls on GP’s

Some of the reforms that the Conservatives had been consulting on pre the prorogation of Parliament, such as plans to limit the duration of non-compete clause, the re-introduction of employment tribunal fees and the use of agency workers during strike action do not appear in their manifesto.


Labour’s manifesto says that its New Deal for Working People will be implemented in full and new legislation will be introduced within the first 100 days. Here are the headlines:

  • National Living Wage;
    • Taking into account the cost of living and removing the 18-20 age band. This could be enacted by April 2025.
    • Day one right not to be unfairly dismissed – Employers will still be able to use probationary periods to assess new hires. This change is significant. It will require consultation, a change to legislation and a new ACAS Code of Practice. Inevitably there is likely to be an increase in ET claims. Labour could remove the length of service requirement within the 100 days but it will take longer to introduce legislation around the probationary periods, if that is what they intend to do.
  • Fire and Rehire Restrictions – would only be permitted as part of a business restructure for a business to remain viable and where there’s no alternative. The Code of Practice will be strengthened.
  • Strengthening redundancy rights – by calculating the length of consultation on the number of people impacted across the business, not just in the workplace as it is currently.
  • TUPE – protections for workers transferred under TUPE would be strengthened although it doesn’t say how.
  • Zero hours contracts which are exploitative would be banned.
  • Right to an average-hours contract – the right to a contract that reflects the number of hours that someone regularly works based on a 12-week reference period.
  • Right to reasonable notice of work schedules and wages for shifts cancelled at short notice.
  • Right to request flexible working from day one.
  • Right to disconnect – it’s not clear what this means in practice but Labour have referred to the models operated by both Ireland and Belgium as examples.
  • Abolition of the three tier system for employment status and have a single worker status – Labour acknowledge that this is going to take time and there will need to be consultation.
  • Improvement of the National Living Wage removing the 18- 20 age band.
  • Commitment to continue with the Tips Act which is due to become law on 1 October 2024 and requires all workers to receive their tips in full.
  • Pay gap reporting for ethnicity and disability for employers with more than 250 employees.
  • Including outsourced workers in Gender pay gap reporting.
  • Increased protection against sexual harassment – requirement for employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to protect employees and treating sexual harassment as whistleblowing.
  • Extending equal pay claims to cover race.
  • Including dual discrimination for example where someone claims that they have been discriminated against because of their gender and race.
  • Employers with more than 250 employees will have to publish menopause action plans
  • Reforming SSP so that it is a day one right and removing the lower earnings limit.
  • Trade Union reforms;
    • Repealing anti-strike laws around minimum service levels during public sector strikes and the use of agency staff
    • Changing balloting from the requirement to be by post
    • Simplifying the union recognition process
    • The right for trade unions to access the workplace to recruit
    • A duty on all employers to inform all staff of their right to join a trade union
    • Stronger protection for union reps
    • This will require fundamental changes to legislation and will take time
  • Collective bargaining across the adult social care sector.
  • Enabling employees to raise collective grievances with ACAS. It’s not clear how this will work in practice as grievances ordinarily should be raised with an employer
  • Banning dismissing woman returning from maternity leave for 6 months after their return expect in specific circumstances.
  • Statutory entitlement to bereavement leave.
  • Day one right to parental leave although it’s not clear whether this is a generic reference to all types of parental leave.
  • Extension of time limits for bringing tribunal claims from 3 to 6 months.
  • A new state enforcement body with powers to inspect the workplace and take legal action. It’s not clear what the remit of this body will be.
  • Employers will need to consult before introducing surveillance technologies. There was no clear statement on regulating AI within HR practices.

It is unlikely that many of their proposals will come into force as quickly as within the first 100 days because of the need for clarity,  to consult and the procedural requirements.

Liberal Democrats

Some highlights of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto are:

  • Creating a new “dependent contractor” status between employment and self-employment
  • Setting a 20% higher minimum wage for zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand.
  • Right to request a fixed hours contract after 12 months on a zero-hour contract.
  • Parental leave and pay to be day one rights.
  • Making SSP available to workers earning less than £123 a week.
  • Increasing SMP and SPP to £350 a week.
  • Increasing paternity pay to 90% of earnings.
  • Creating a new use it or lose it “dad month” to encourage more fathers to take parental leave.
  • Making being a carer a protected characteristic.
  • Recognising non-binary identities in law.
  • All disabled people having the right to work from home unless there are significant business reasons why not.

Whatever the outcome of the election it is likely that we will see significant changes to working practices and the employment law landscape. This election looks like it will be instrumental in changing the face of employment law as we know it.

If you have any questions about the potential changes, or would like advice on any other employment law matters please do get in touch with out expert Employment Lawyers.

Contact a specialist

Laura Darnley

Partner | Employment

+44 (0) 330 137 3190

+44 (0) 751 519 9143

Email Laura Darnley

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Caroline Shafar

Partner | Employment

+44 (0) 330 137 3188

+44 (0) 770 401 7178

Email Caroline Shafar

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