What could a general election mean for employment law?

  • Employment Law
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to “fight for every vote” as he announced there would be a premature general election on Thursday 4th July. Find out what the main political parties are promising for your HR...

The UK is gearing up for a general election on Thursday 4th July.

Whatever the result, all main parties are planning to revamp employment law should they get into power. So, employers should expect major HR change in the coming months.

Here's what the three main parties are promising for your business...


Labour leader Keir Starmer said he wanted to “stop the chaos” and that it was “time for change” in his recent statement.

And now the party has re-released their manifesto for worker rights, we can see they've set out a long list of radical workplace reforms. So to give you a full picture of what you could expect under a Labour government, here's what they're planning to do:

Give employment rights from day one

No more qualifying periods for basic employment rights like unfair dismissal, sick pay and parental leave.

Give a single status of "worker"

No more distinction between “employee” and “worker”. All workers to be given the same basic employment rights around sick pay, holiday pay, unfair dismissal, and more.

Strengthen existing employment rights and protections

To enhance the rights and protections of:

  • pregnant staff
  • whistleblowers
  • workers in a redundancy
  • staff subject to TUPE
  • workers making grievances

And to reinstate the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB) in England.

Give self-employed people the right to a written contract

To make it a legal requirement for the self-employed to have a written contract of employment.

Raise wages for workers

  • To remove existing national minimum wage age bandings.
  • To reform the role of the Low Pay Commission body and require them to take into account cost of living when recommending rates.
  • Create Fair Pay Agreements in adult social care.

Ban unpaid internships that aren't part of an education or training course

To ban unpaid internships unless they are part of someone's education or training course.

Give sick pay to everyone at a "fair earnings replacement rate" and remove the waiting period

To make sick pay (SSP) available to everyone, including workers who aren’t currently eligible, at a rate that represents a "fair earnings replacement". Also, to remove the three day waiting period.

Close pay gaps

To take steps to close gender, ethnicity and disability pay gap. Make it mandatory for firms with 250 staff or more to publish an ethnicity pay gap report and a disability pay gap report.

Clamp down further on workplace sexual harassment

To require employers to go even further to prevent sexual harassment and protect staff from harassment at work.

Make flexible working the default from day one for all workers

Employers to accommodate flexible working requests from all staff from day one except in cases where it is not "reasonably feasible".

Make parental leave a day one right

Plan to make parental leave a day one right for employees.

Commitment to review Carers Leave Act

Plan to review the law on carer's leave and examine the benefits of introducing paid leave.

More job security for staff on zero-hour contracts

To give anyone who works regular hours for 12 weeks or more the right to a regular contract. All workers to get reasonable notice if their shift or work pattern changes. Plus, compensation for cancelled shifts and loss of work.

Replace government's statutory code on fire and rehire with a stronger one

To improve the information and consultation procedures around fire and rehire practices. To also adapt unfair dismissal and redundancy law to prevent workers from being dismissed after not agreeing to imposed terms.

Update planned law on staff tips to allow workers the right to allocate

To strengthen the planned law around staff tips to give workers the power to decide how to allocate tips.

More wellbeing support

To do more to support the long term physical and mental health of workers. To assess whether existing regulations and guidance can adequately support and protect those experiencing symptoms of long Covid.

Give workers the right to switch off

Plan to introduce a new right to disconnect. Protection for staff against the expectations of having to respond to work communications outside of working hours.

To inform employees of their right to join a trade union in their written contract

To strengthen trade union right of entry to workplaces, simplify the process of union recognition, and make it an employer’s duty to tell their worker about their right to join a union.

To make it a requirement for employers to include a clause in their employee's statement of main terms, outlining their right to join a union.

More time to raise tribunal claims and to introduce a single enforcement body

To extend the time limit for raising a employment tribunal claim from three to six months and to establish a single enforcement body for enforcing worker rights.

Encourage employers to sign up to "Dying to Work" charter

To encourage employers to sign up to the "Dying to Work" charter to support workers who have terminal illnesses.

Businesses with 250+ staff to have a menopause action plan

To make it a legal requirement for businesses who employ more than 250 staff to have a written action plan outlining how they manage employees who are going through menopause.

Examine what AI means for work, skills and jobs

To work with workers, trade unions, employers and experts to examine what AI and new technologies mean for work, jobs and skills.

Give workers the right to make collective grievances to Acas

To give workers the right to make a collective grievance to Acas if they feel an issue in the workplace is affecting a group of individuals.


Raise wages for workers

By the end of the next parliament, the Conservatives would raise the National Living Wage to around £13 per hour, and reduce national insurance.

Overhaul the fit note process

The Conservatives would address the fit note process so that people are not signed off sick by default. This would involve introducing a triage process for employees who are seeking a fit note, and directing them down an appropriate pathway.

Clarify the characteristic of 'sex'

The Conservatives would make laws to clarify that the protected characteristic of 'sex' means biological sex only.

Update trade union laws

The Conservatives would bring back the stricter trade union laws that were removed in Wales.

Increase visa fees

In an effort to to curb immigration, the Conservatives would introduce a legal cap on migration, which would reduce each year. They would also increase visa fees and require migrants to have health checks.

Create more apprenticeships

The Conservatives would create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England each year by the end of the next parliament.

Rishi Sunak has also pledged to put an end to "rip off degrees."

He said that a future Conservative government would take the "bold action of removing under-performing university degrees" and using that money to fund "high-quality apprenticeships." This is in a bid to offer young people "the employment opportunities and financial security they need."

If this were to go ahead and more businesses were to take on apprentices, they would need to be aware of certain obligations when it comes to employing an apprentice.

Introduce national service for all 18-year-olds

Rishi Sunak recently announced that the Conservatives would introduce a national service scheme for all 18-year-olds should they win the election.

This would give young people a choice of two options once they turn 18. They either spend a 25 days each year taking part in a a military training scheme, or they spend one weekend a month over a 12 month period volunteering in their community. The latter would involve working alongside organisations like the NHS and fire service.

If the Conservatives were to win the election, for HR this would raise questions as to how young people might navigate this new requirement alongside existing jobs. There would also be concerns over what might be expected of businesses and charities who have young people volunteering with them.

Do parents get a day off work if their child's school is closed because it's being used as a polling station for the General Election?

Get instant, expert answers to your HR questions...

Liberal Democrats

Introduce a new employment status

The Liberal Democrats would establish a new 'dependant contractor' employment status. This would be a hybrid status between the employed and self-employed, and provide this type of worker with rights including minimum earnings, sick pay, and holiday entitlement.

Introduce a minimum wage for care workers

The Liberal Democrats have said they want to bring in a carer’s minimum wage, which would allow care workers to earn at least £2 an hour more than the current minimum wage. The intention is to help encourage more people to take jobs in social care and to tackle staff shortages in the sector.

If this were to go ahead, existing employers of care workers would need to boost wages to meet the new legal minimum wage. And they could also be managing a boost in recruitment.

Increase wages for certain workers

The Liberal Democrats would remove the lower apprentice rate and pay apprentices in line with other workers. They would also increase the National Minimum Wage for people on a zero-hour contract.

Update statutory sick pay rules

The Liberal Democrats would remove the lower earnings limit - making more people eligible to claim SSP - and align the sick pay rate with National Minimum Wage.

They would also remove the requirement to wait for four days before being able to claim statutory sick pay, making it instantly available should workers need it.

Update flexible working rules

The Liberal Democrats would give all workers the right to work flexibly, and give workers with a disability the automatic right to work from home unless there are significant reasons the business can't accommodate that.

Introduce more family friendly laws

The Liberal Democrats would introduce a day one right to parental leave and pay for all workers, including the self-employed. They would also:

  • increase the length of paternity leave
  • increase parental pay during family leave
  • require employers to publish parental leave policies
  • provide neonatal care leave
  • provide paid carer's leave

Amend zero-hour contracts

The Liberal Democrats would give zero-hours and agency workers a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months. Employers would have to seriously consider this request.

Protect carers by law

The Liberal Democrats would add 'caring' and 'care experience' to the list of protected characteristics. This would protect people who have caring responsibilities against discrimination in the workplace.

Provide neurodiversity and accessibility awareness

The Liberal Democrats would introduce measures to boost awareness and train employers on neurodiversity. They would also raise employers' awareness of the Access to Work Scheme.

Introduce reporting requirements

The Liberal Democrats would require larger businesses to publish data on their gender, ethnicity, disability, LGBT+ pay gaps.

Address foreign worker rules

The Liberal Democrats would replace the salary threshold scheme with a merit based system for work visas. NHS and care staff would be exempt from the £1,000 a year immigration skills charge.

Replace apprenticeship levy

The Liberal Democrats would replace the apprenticeship levy with a skills and training levy.

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