The General Election brings with it promises from various parties about employment law reform. The proposals of the Labour Party have received significant media coverage and we summarise below the plans set out in their Plan to Make Work Pay:

  • A ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts and ensuring everyone has the right to have a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work, based on a twelve-week reference period. Note that the language here is a “ban on exploitative zero hours contracts” and not a “ban on zero hours contracts”
  • End the scourges of “fire and rehire” and “fire and replace” that leave working people at the mercy of bullying threats. The law will be reformed to provide effective remedies against abuse and introduction of strengthened Code of Practice. Note that the language here is not a ban on “fire and rehire”, but rather it is about “effective remedies against abuse of the practice”
  • Basic individual employment rights from day one for all workers (including protection against unfair dismissal), although with the clarification that “we will ensure employers can operate probationary periods to assess new hires”
  • “Move towards” and consult in detail about a single status of “worker” to replace the current three tier system of employment status (employee, worker and self-employed). Note that the commitment here is to “move towards and consult about”, with no definitive position taken
  • For redundancy exercises, consultation requirements will be determined by the number of people impacted across the business rather than in one workplace (which suggests that it will overturn the law which establishes that thresholds for collective consultation apply per establishment, rather than across a business).  
  • Strengthen protection for:
    • workers who transfer under the TUPE process (no detail given)
    • whistleblowers (no detail is given)
    • maternity, by making it unlawful to dismiss a woman from pregnancy up to six months after her return from maternity leave, except in specific circumstances
    • employees who are off sick, by making SSP available to all workers and removing the three day waiting period
    • those with menopause symptoms, by requiring large employers to produce Menopause Action Plans
  • Adapt and build on the current flexible working regime to “ensure flexibility is a genuine default"
  • Review the parental leave system
  • “Examine the benefits” of introducing paid carers’ leave
  • Clarify the law and entitlement to bereavement leave
  • Introduce a right to switch off, based on the Belgian or Irish system
  • Consult with workers, unions and employers about the impact of AI and technology
  • Create a genuine living wage, without discriminatory age bands
  • Ban unpaid internships
  • Enact the obligation on public bodies to have due regard when making decisions to reducing the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage
  • Strengthening pay gap reporting, introducing:
    • Mandatory ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting for those with more than 250 staff
    • Requirement for large firms to publish action plans to close their pay gaps
  • Introduce a Single Enforcement Body to enforce workers’ rights
  • Employment Tribunal reform
    • Digitisation
    • Extension of time limits for bringing claims from three to six months

Some of these proposals contain more detail than others and some contain a fair amount of flexibility as to what any new laws might actually look like. We of course need to wait for the result of the General Election to discover who will be in power and which of their proposals they will introduce.  

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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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