The Results Are In!

As we usher in the first Labour government in 14 years, we look at Labour’s plan to get Britain working.

Labour has an ambitious plan to get 2 million people into work, to increase the employment rate from 75% to 80%, and deliver the highest employment levels in the G7. Labour promises to refocus the Department for Work and Pensions back on to work with plans to drive higher engagement, higher employment and higher earnings, to boost living standards, power the economy and improve public finances.

Our new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, will be introducing a major programme of reform to support more people into work by implementing a new combined national jobs and career service, implement new local plans for work health and skills support to get more people with health conditions and disabilities into work as well as reforming the benefit system so that it encourages work. They also plan to make work more family-friendly and make the trade unions stronger. Collective bargaining will be key to tackling problems of insecurity, inequality and discrimination.

What else can we expect from our new government in respect of employment law?

Labour’s Employment Rights Bill

Labour will be creating the Single Enforcement Body that has been consulted on extensively but not delivered by previous governments. The new body will ensure that employment rights are upheld. This centralised body will streamline the enforcement of employment laws, making it easier for employees to raise concerns and for employers to comply with regulations.

Businesses should prepare for more rigorous enforcement of employment laws, which may result in higher compliance costs and more frequent legal challenges. Enhanced oversight and stricter penalties for non-compliance will require businesses to be more vigilant in their employment practices and policies.

New rights for workers from day one

Labour has proposed making unfair dismissal a day one right for all workers. This does not mean that employers cannot dismiss employees for fair reasons or prevent employers from using probationary periods to assess new recruits’ suitability for a role, however this new law would mean that employers would need to ensure that they are fair and transparent and keep detailed documentation regarding performance during probation and follow a full and fair process before deciding to dismiss.

Workers to be given the right to disconnect

Labour has promised a right for all workers to disconnect outside of working hours. We can expect this to include:

• A right not to have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours;
• A right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours;
• A duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect.

Whistleblowers

Labour will be strengthening protections for whistleblowers, including updating protections for women who report sexual harassment at work.

Redundancy Rights and TUPE

Labour will also be strengthening redundancy rights and protections by, for example, ensuring the right to redundancy consultation is determined by the number of people impacted across the business rather than in one workplace.

Equality at Work

Labour plan to further strengthen harassment laws, including plans to introduce protections from harassment for interns and volunteers and to reintroduce protections from third party harassment.

They plan to introduce ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting and large employers with more than 250 employees will be required to produce Menopause Action Plans setting out how they will support employees through the menopause.

Fire & Rehire

Dismissal and Re-engagement, or fire and rehire as it is often known, is the practice of making an employee redundant and then re-hiring them on worse terms and conditions, often as a way of forcing employees into agreeing to lower pay and bad terms. Labour recognises that employers sometimes have no choice but to restructure their business to remain viable and so it proposes strengthening existing laws and issuing a strengthened code of practice so that any changes can only be made following a fair and transparent consultation process based on dialogue and common understanding between workers and employers.

Ban of zero hours contracts

Labour views these contracts as exploitative and proposes to ban them. All workers will instead have the right to a more stable contract based on the hours they work over a twelve-week reference period. They will also have the right to reasonable notice of any change in shifts or working time and compensation proportionate to notice given for any curtailed or cancelled shifts.

When will these changes be implemented?

The new government plan to hit the ground running, introducing legislation in Parliament within 100 days. It is unlikely that most reforms would take effect that quickly, but we are likely to see some changes relatively quickly on workplace law.

Our dispute resolution specialists at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP can help you navigate these changes and manage any legal challenges effectively.

Contact us on 01245 584523 or send an email to [email protected] for expert advice and support in employment matters.