General Election 2024: what would a win for the Conservatives mean for employment law?

  • Employment Law
conservatives - employment law changes
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

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On 11 June 2024, the Conservatives released their manifesto for 2024, entitled Clear Plan, Bold Action, Secure Future. It sets out their proposals for workplace reform if they win the general election. Below, we set out what action they have said that they will take and what this could mean for employers.

Increase National Living Wage

The National Living Wage, which is currently £11.44 an hour, is payable to those aged 21 and above. The Conservatives say that they would increase to around £13 an hour by the end of the next Parliament, which is a maximum period of five years.

Overhaul fit note process

Fit notes can be certified by GPs and healthcare professionals – nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists – provided they work in a general practice or hospital setting. The Conservatives pledge to overhaul the fit note process so that people are not signed off sick by default. They also say that they would introduce a triage process for employees who are seeking a fit note and direct them down an appropriate pathway.

Clarify protected characteristic of sex

At the moment, there is no definition of ‘sex in the Equality Act 2010 but if the Conservatives win the general election, they will clarify the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act 2010 so that it is clear that it means biological sex.

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Trade Union Act 2016

In Wales, the Trade Union Act 2016 does not fully apply, however, the Conservatives say that they will re-instate it in its entirety if they were to win on 4th July. This would mean that it is then in line with the position in England.


There are various routes under the current points-based system to obtain a visa including the Skilled Worker visa, Global Talent visa, Health and Care Worker visa, Global Business Mobility, and the Scale-up Worker. The Conservatives pledge to introduce a legal cap on migration that will fall every year of Parliament, increase visa fees, and require migrants to have health checks.


The Conservatives also promise to create 100,000 apprenticeships in England every year by the end of the next Parliament (maximum five years).

What would these changes mean?

There is a marked difference in the number of proposals affecting employment law made by the Conservatives when compared with the respective manifestos of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Of the limited proposals, there are few surprises and not a lot that has not already been mooted.

Whilst the fit note reform would have a clear impact on employees who are seeking medical evidence for their absence, the impact on employers may be less profound. It’s difficult to say until further details are released – if they are – on exactly how the triage and re-direction of fit note seekers would work.

The clarification of the protected characteristic of “sex” would require a re-programming of perspectives. For example, under the plan a trans man would not be able to claim sex discrimination based on being a man, although they may be officially recognised as male.

The Conservatives may be relying on their recent track record of employment law change to garner the favour of voters. During one week alone in April 2024, significant enhancements of employee rights were seen in the areas of flexible working, paternity leave and minimum wage structure.

What about the Bills that were being debated in Parliament?

Before the general election was called, the current Government had introduced several Bills to Parliament that were at various stages of the debate process. These included the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill which proposed the introduction of the right for employees to take time off to attend appointments for fertility treatment, and the Bullying and Respect at Work Bill which proposed a statutory definition of bullying and would create the ability for workers to make a claim to the employment tribunal that they had been bullied, as is currently the case with harassment. The Conservatives’ manifesto does not contain any intention on the progression of these Bills. Therefore, their status is uncertain.

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