Employment law changes under the new Labour government

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As part of its manifesto, Labour pledged to make a number of changes to employment law under its ‘Make work pay’ – delivering a new deal for working people proposals. If implemented, these will have far reaching implications for HR professionals and employers. At present, it’s unknown when all of these changes will come into effect.  However, Labour originally pledged to make the changes within the first 100 days in office. Parliament opens on the 17th July, which will set out the legislative agenda. So the 25th October will be 100 days from this date.

The Labour manifesto contained 60 HR and employment law pledges in total. However, it plans to carry out a full review on all of its plans, working in consultation with key stakeholders, including trade unions and key employers.

What are the major employment law pledges?

  • Give employees protection against unfair dismissal from day one of employment. 
  • Remove National Minimum Wage age-related bandings. 
  • Require employers to provide self-employed people with a written contract. 
  • Make employers include a clause covering the ability to join a union in employees’ written statement of main terms.
  • Increase the amount of Statutory Sick Pay and make more people eligible to receive it. 
  • Make flexible working the default for all workers from day one except where it is not reasonably feasible. 
  • Ban exploitative zero-hours contracts.
  • Strengthen “fire and re-hire” (dismissing an employee to enforce a change to their employment terms and re-engaging them on the new terms) laws.
  • Give those with an employment status of “worker” the same employment rights as “employees”, including parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal.
  • Provide employees with the right to disconnect, preventing employers from contacting them outside of working hours.
  • Remove laws limiting the impact of industrial action, meaning the impact of teacher strikes/transport strikes could be greater.
  • Require larger businesses to have a menopause action plan and report on both their disability and ethnicity pay gaps.

Which policies are affected?

  • Statutory bereavement leave – a new policy that’s needed
  • Right to disconnect
  • Disciplinary / capability
  • Parental leave
  • Carer’s leave
  • Flexible working
  • Harassment
  • Sickness
  • Redundancy
  • Whistleblowing
  • Tips

What will you do next to prepare for the changes?

Although we don’t have a clear timeline yet for some or all of these changes, it’s advisable to start familiarising yourself with their implications. Existing contracts, policies and procedures will likely need to be updated when the rules come into play, as well as the need for new documentation altogether. In addition, line managers will need to be familiar with these changes and trained to manage them appropriately.

Processes such as recruitment will need to be scrutinised. All employees will have rights from day one of employment, therefore emphasis will be placed on fair and transparent probationary periods when hiring. In addition, there will be increased pressure on employers to make the right hiring decisions in the first place. This will mean refining and upgrading existing recruitment processes, looking at screening techniques such as psychometric testing to make sure the new hire is the right fit and reduce the risk of unfair dismissal claims. Continuous monitoring and assessment within the probationary period during the first few months will also be crucial to mitigate risk.

In sectors, where zero hours contracts are routinely used, employers will have to consider the implications of moving away from these. There will be practical implications on shift management and pay and tax as a result too. Additionally, in sectors where younger staff are paid the National Minimum Wage, budgets will be impacted if wages rise.

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Written by:

Alison King
Managing Director - Alison founded Bespoke HR in October 2005. After many years working for others in senior HR functions; she decided to start up on her own. There isn’t much that Alison doesn’t know about the world of HR, and she has surrounded herself with a team in her own mould.