Labour confirms plans for employment law

In anticipation of the next UK general election taking place in 2024, the Labour Party has been promising reforms to the employment landscape of a greater magnitude than, arguably, any time in the last 40 years.

In a speech at the TUC conference, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner gave a “cast iron commitment” to bring forward an employment rights bill within the first 100 days of Labour entering office. This is part of a promised “New Deal for Working People”.

Our team have previously considered what the employment law landscape might look like under a Keir Starmer-led Labour government by examining Labour’s wide- ranging proposals for reform, including: 

major changes to unfair dismissal protection; 

the proposal to ban zero hours contracts; 

proposals to balance work and home life, including the right to disconnect, flexible working and caring responsibilities; 

proposals to reform employment status; and 

far-reaching proposals to expand trade union rights.

The recent speech has confirmed many of these proposals. Trade union reforms were particularly highlighted, with a “loud and clear” message that the next Labour Government will ask Parliament to repeal various “anti-trade union” laws within their first 100 days. Other significant reforms were also listed, including day one basic rights, a ban on zero hour contracts, an end to fire and rehire, and strengthened sick pay for all workers.

As noted by Unite the union in response to this speech, the “devil is in the detail”. Rapid change has been promised in relation to trade union rights. For reforms to individual rights, however, the promise is only for an employment rights bill to be introduced within the first 100 days. This does not mean that actual change will happen that quickly – particularly if detail is left to implementing regulations, as is the case with current government reforms such as extending redundancy protection for pregnancy and maternity returners, and the new right to neonatal leave and pay.

If implemented, Labour’s package of proposed reforms would represent the most transformational change to UK employment law in decades. Employers should start considering the potential implications for their operations well in advance. We will provide further details as they emerge.

We are here to assist. If you require any further support with this topic, please email or call one of our team. We partner with many businesses to support their business growth, be it through reorganisations, reducing ET risk when faced with common employment issues, executive coaching, leadership development, robust HR policies and procedures, payroll or health and safety, please contact one of our team.

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