Labour Party proposes employment law shake-up

  • Employment Contract
New employment laws
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

The Labour Party has released a Green Paper entitled A New Deal for Working People: Employment Rights and it sets out its commitments should it become the next ruling party

Adding detail to its campaign document, Let’s Get Britain’s Future Back, the changes proposed by Labour would mean a serious gear change for employers. One of the most significant changes proposed by Labour is the removal of the need for qualifying service for certain employment law protections and entitlements. Under a Labour government, employees would instead be able to access rights such as sick pay, parental leave and even unfair dismissal from the very beginning of their employment. Casual worker rights would also be reviewed and increased to give them a full set of rights.

They also propose to remove the current limit on unfair dismissal compensation. 

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Another of Labour’s promises relates to its commitment to “make work pay” and goes beyond that which was previously reported. Adding to its commitment to change the Low Pay Commission’s remit when setting its recommendations for the National Minimum Wage (NMW), the “New Deal” demands a wage of £10 for all workers. At the current rate of NMW, the youngest workers receive £5.28 per hour, rising to £6.40 from April 2024. There are also changes proposed to sick pay to increase the amount and for it to be paid to everyone, including self-employed people.

Labour also promises to ban zero-hours contracts as well as fire and re-hire dismissals and require employers to agree to flexible working requests “as far as is reasonable”.

In banning fire and re-hire, Labour has identified three areas of the law that would need to be changed.

  • Information and consultation requirements to be improved to ensure employers consult with their workers on contractual changes.
  • Unfair dismissal and redundancy laws to be adapted to prevent dismissals for refusing to agree to a “worse” contract.
  • Changes to be made to trade union laws on notice and balloting to allow for defensive action where fire and re-hire is being implemented.

Finally, introducing the “right to disconnect” into UK law would bring us in line with other countries, such as France, Spain and most recently Australia. In the UK version, Labour has promised to bring in rules that will allow workers to “switch off” and not be contacted by their employer outside of their contractual working hours.

The date of the next General Election has not yet been confirmed but it must be before the end of January 2025.

As 2024 progresses we are likely to see more in the news on what the various political parties would bring into law should they be asked to form the next government. This may or may not mean significant changes for employers once more; it will be down to the public to decide.

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