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Labour’s Victory: A New Era for UK Employment Laws

Labour’s victory marks the dawn of a new era for employment laws in the UK. With a clear mandate from the electorate, and the repatriation of employment rights to Westminster post-Brexit, Labour’s victory has set the stage for a fundamental transformation of employment laws in the UK. Within 100 days of entering office, Labour is poised to implement sweeping changes under its Plan to Make Work Pay. Here’s a glimpse of what’s to come:

Employment Rights

Labour is to take a firm stand against exploitative work practices and end ‘one sided flexibility’. New rules that are designed to prevent the abuse of zero hours contracts are planned, as well as  laws to ensure basic rights from day one, including parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal. Making the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim a day one right is a radical change to the law and will require a significant adjustment in how employers deal with their employees in the initial months of the employment relationship.

Under the Plan, the new government will also introduce strict new rules relating to the controversial practice of ‘fire and rehire’ that will make it more difficult for employers to change terms and conditions.

Employment Status

The employment rights and protections afforded to workers in the UK currently depend on their status as either ‘an employee’, ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed’ person. This may be about to change via the creation of a single status of ‘worker’ for all those except those who are genuinely self-employed. This would increase the number of individuals entitled to the minimum rights such as minimum wage and statutory sick pay, having significant cost and administrative burdens for employers.

Empowering Workers

Labour proposes to establish a Single Enforcement Body, enhancing the collective power of workers and their trade unions. This move aims to ensure robust enforcement of workers’ rights, making it easier for employees to unionize and strike, thereby fostering fairer workplaces.

Raising the Minimum Wage

Labour has committed to raising the minimum wage to a genuine living wage that reflects the actual cost of living. By changing the Low Pay Commission’s remit and removing age bands, all adults would be entitled to the same minimum wage, with the objective of promoting fairness and reducing in-work poverty.

Tackling Pay Gaps and Discrimination

Labour is committed to reducing the gender pay gap and strengthening protections against maternity and menopause discrimination and sexual harassment. Protections for whistleblowers reporting sexual harassment will also be reinforced, in order to ensure a safer and more equitable work environment.

Championing Disabled Rights

Championing the rights of disabled people with measures to ensure full equal pay, Labour would pass legislation to require large employers to report on their disability pay gap. This measure would be supported by improved access to reasonable adjustments. Tackling the Access to Work backlog is also a priority, ensuring timely support for disabled workers.

Menopause Rights

Labour will build on existing protections for workers experiencing menopause. This includes introducing mandatory workplace menopause policies to provide support and prevent discrimination.

Strengthening TUPE Protections

Labour have committed to bolstering the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations 2006, to ensure that employees retain their terms and conditions of employment when their employer changes ownership the extent of these proposals is yet to be revealed.

In all, Labour’s comprehensive New Deal for Working People promises to reshape the UK’s employment landscape and as a result, the world of HR and employment law is about to become even busier. We will be issuing more detailed guidance and delivering training on these plans as developments progress. For specific help and guidance on what this means for your business, please contact [email protected].