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How might a change in government impact your business?

Benjamin Franklin famously observed that “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Under British constitutional law, we can add a third: there will be a general election within the next year!

In recent months, Labour has been setting out its manifesto. If elected, we can expect changes to employment law and workers’ rights.  

Deputy Leader Angela Rayner has pledged that Labour would introduce an Employment Rights Bill within their first 100 days in office. Proposed changes include:

Trade unions

  • Repeal the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 and the Trade Unions Act 2016.
  • Update trade union laws “to make them fit for the 21st century” and to strengthen the role of trade unions in society: 
    • A right to access workplaces, allowing trade unions to meet, represent, recruit, and organise members 
    • Simplify the statutory recognition process to include the gig economy and remote workers 
    • Levelling up on the use of secure and private electronic balloting when engaging, communicating with and polling trade union members 
    • Boost collective bargaining, starting with fair pay agreements in adult social care

• Blacklisting:

  • Update regulations to outlaw predictive technology for blacklisting 
  • Liability for third parties carrying out blacklisting
  • Give employment tribunals the power to order the destruction of lists

Equality

  • Sexual harassment: The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) would be amended to introduce a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to stop sexual harassment before it starts, together with a new statutory code of practice setting out the obligations on employers 
  • Disability discrimination: In line with the UN Convention for the Rights of Disabled People, introduce mandatory disability pay gap reporting for larger businesses and facilitate workers securing reasonable adjustments 
  • Race discrimination: A new Race Equality Act would tackle structural racism, including the issue of low pay for ethnic minorities
  • Gender pay gap: action to make more progress more quickly
  • Diversity data: Implement requirement for political parties to publish anonymised candidate diversity data
  • Implement the socio-economic duty on certain public bodies

Workers’ rights

  • ban zero-hours contracts
  • end “fire and rehire” practices
  • extend statutory sick pay entitlement to all workers from day one 
  • remove the two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal 
  • extend the time limit to bring an employment tribunal claim to six months
  • expand the remit of the Low Pay Commission to link NMW to the cost of living 

Comment

Several of these proposals would have significant implications for employers, including removing the two-year qualifying period for ordinary unfair dismissal protection.

The certainty of our foresight does not extend to death, taxes, or elections! Our analysis of manifesto promises and the potential impact on employers will continue as they are published.

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