Call us on +44 (0)20 7465 4300
I voted
02 July 2024

The General Election

As you will know, a General Election is due to take place on 4 July 2024. Whatever your personal politics we thought it may be useful to set out what each of the main parties have to say about employment rights and the pledges they make if they were to be elected. There are a number of employment related promises which may be interesting to those concerned about the general world of work but which sadly, fall outside the scope of this note. This could be plans related to taxation, child or childcare benefits, apprenticeships, worker visas, the use of artificial intelligence and so on, so you are encouraged to do your own research on the things that matter to you ahead of the election.  


Whilst there will no doubt be a myriad of different factors which influence your decision on who to vote for come polling day, there is no denying that there could be significant change in the employment sphere depending on who wins the election and which, if any, of the manifesto pledges in this area are seen through.

The Conservative and Unionist Party  

Whilst the Conservatives party has made a number of pledges related to the upcoming election, very few relate to employment / employment rights. Their manifesto focuses only on:  

  • Amending the Equality Act to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex means biological sex;  
  • An increase in the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median earnings, which they predict will result in an increase to £13 per hour; and  
  • Improving absenteeism at work by moving away from the requirement to obtain a statement of fitness from work from GPs but instead moving the responsibility towards specialist work and health professionals.  

Absent from their manifesto were a number of proposals which had been mooted prior to the announcement of the General Election and so it is unclear whether the following changes remain on the agenda:  

  • The reintroduction of employment tribunal fees, it being proposed that a ‘modest’ issue fee of £55 apply to all claims (except claims for payment from the National Insurance Fund) and an appeal fee also of £55 for each judgment or decision being appealed;  
  • Introducing legislation to confirm that non-disclosure agreements cannot be enforced if they prevent the reporting of crimes etc;  
  • Placing a cap on the length of enforceable non-compete post termination restrictions so that they are limited to a period of 3 months; and 
  • The removal of the legal framework for maintaining European Works Councils in the UK.  

If the Conservatives remain in power, it is anticipated that there would be very few changes in the existing employment law framework.  


The Labour Party  

The Labour party on the other hand has made a number of pledges relating to employment / employment rights with a significant number of changes being proposed as part of their manifesto.  

In summary, they propose the following:   

  • The introduction of day one employment rights in the following areas: the right to parental leave, sick pay and protection from unfair dismissal (albeit they may also seek to introduce rules relating to probationary periods so that businesses may still assess new hires and be permitted to dismiss for cause). 
  • Banning zero hours contracts and ensuring everyone has the right to a contract that reflects their regular working hours (based on 12-week reference period). 
  • Ending fire and rehire practices by replacing the existing statutory code with a strengthened code of practice and by introducing laws to provide effective remedies against abuse in this area.  
  • The introduction of a Single Enforcement Body to ensure employment rights are upheld.  
  • Introducing a national minimum wage that is linked to the cost of living and removing the existing age brackets so all adults are entitled to the same rate of pay.  
  • Removing the lower earning threshold to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay and making it available from the first day of sickness absence rather than the forth.  
  • Introducing a single worker status, rather than continuing to utilise the current distinction between employees and workers.  
  • Providing greater protection to those affected by redundancy (with consultation requirements being set by the number of people affected across the workforce (rather than at the relevant establishment)) and to those affected by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Act 2006 (albeit it is not yet clear how the existing rights will be strengthened). 
  • Strengthening the protection afforded to whistle-blowers including updating protections for women who report sexual harassment at work. 
  • Introducing a right to bereavement leave for all workers and potentially introducing paid carers’ leave. 
  • Introducing the right to ‘switch off’ by following models already in place in Ireland and Belgium, giving workers and employers the opportunity to have constructive conversations and bespoke workplace policies that benefit both parties.  
  • Modernising legislation in relation to trade union activity with a view to driving partnerships between businesses and trade unions including (but not limited to) the simplification of the statutory recognition process, allowing trade unions rights of access, informing employees of their right to join a union, introducing rights for trade union representatives to undertake their work (and strengthening the existing protections against unfair dismissal) and updating the laws relating to blacklisting. 
  • Amending equal pay legislation so that outsourcing cannot be used to avoid paying equal pay, to create a requirement for large firms (i.e. those with more than 250 employees) to develop, publish and implement action plans to close their gender pay gaps and also to introduce a mandatory requirement for large employers to publish ethnicity and disability pay gaps.  
  • Introducing obligations on large employers to produce menopause action plans setting out how they will support employees through the menopause.  
  • Increasing the current time limit to bring most employment-related claims before the Employment Tribunal from 3 months to 6 months (subject to the existing rules regarding extending this time period by participating in ACAS Early Conciliation).  

If the Labour party are elected following the General Election, there are likely to be rather wholesale changes to the existing employment landscape in the very near future (Labour having additionally pledged to introduce legislation within 100 days of entering government).  


The Liberal Democrats  

The Liberal Democrats have also made a number of pledges within their manifesto which will affect employment / employment rights. These are summarised as follows:  

  • Making parental leave and pay a day one employment right (including for adoptive parents and kinship carers) and to additionally extend them to self-employed parents.   
  • Setting a 20% higher minimum wage at times of normal demand for people on zero-hours contracts to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours or work and to provide a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months (a right which will also be extended to agency workers) – with such requests not to be unreasonably refused.  
  • The introduction of a new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority unifying responsibilities regarding the enforcement of the minimum wage, tackling modern slavery and protecting agency workers.   
  • Removing the lower earning threshold to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), making payment of SSP align with the national minimum wage and making it available from the first day of sickness absence rather than the forth. They also suggest helping small employers with the cost  of SSP and will consult with them on the best way to do this.  
  • Introducing a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status, in between employment and self-employment with entitlements to basic rights such as minimum earning levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement. The Liberal Democrats also propose shifting the burden of proof in employment tribunal claims on worker status from individual to employer.  
  • Introducing a right to paid neo-natal care leave. 
  • Requiring large employers to publish their parental leave and pay policies and to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression as well as publishing five-year aspirational diversity targets.    
  • Reforming the gender recognition process to remove the requirement for medical reports and to recognise non-binary identities in law (albeit whether this is intended to impact the existing protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010 is unclear).  
  • Providing additional support and advice to employers on neurodiversity in the workplace and developing a cross-governmental strategy to tackle discrimination. 
  • Raising employers’ awareness of the Access to Work scheme and simplifying and speeding up the application process. They also pledge to additional introduce ‘adjustment passports’ so that the adjustments, modifications and equipment a disabled person has received are recorded and any Access to Work support and equipment stays with the person if they change jobs.  
  • Extending the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encouraging their use in the private sector.  
  • Encouraging employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.  

In addition to these promises, the Liberal Democrats state that, in the longer term, when budget allows, their ambition is to give all families (including self-employed parents, adoptive parents and kinship carers) six weeks of use-it-or lose it leave for each parent (paid at 90% of earnings) and 46 weeks of parental leave to share between themselves as they choose (and paid at double the current rate).  

Given all of the above, if the Liberal Democrats were to be elected, there will no doubt be a number of changes to the world of work in the near future.  

If you would like to discuss any of the above proposals, or how to prepare for the potential changes, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  

To read our latest edition of our IN CASE Newsletter, click here. 

About the Author
Domonique McRae
View Profile