Employment Advice

What Does a Labour Government Mean For Employment Law?

The result of the General Election will bring widespread change across all areas of daily life.

05 Jul 2024

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Esther Marshall

Esther Marshall

This article looks in particular at what the new Government’s intentions are regarding employment law, if the changes promised in the Labour manifesto come to fruition. The changes most likely to impact upon day-to-day employment issues are as follows:

 Employment status

Currently, there is a three tier system, which distinguishes between employees, workers and the self-employed. Each has different status and protection under the law, with workers having fewer rights than employees. In its manifesto, the Labour party proposed the creation of a two part framework, under which workers will have the same basic rights and protection as employees. Those who are genuinely self-employed will remain separate. This change will improve the employment rights of huge numbers of those previously classed as workers.

Unfair Dismissal

Since 2012, in order to bring a claim for unfair dismissal, an employee must have had 2 years of continuous service. The effect of this has been to give employers carte blanche in dismissing those who had worked for few than 2 years.  The Labour government has committed to making protection from unfair dismissal a “day one” right for all workers. This is likely to lead to an increased use of probation periods for new hires. It is also proposed to remove the cap on compensation for unfair dismissal claims.

These changes could lead to an influx of unfair dismissal claims, and it remains to be seen how the Employment Tribunals, already working on a substantial backlog, will cope.

Zero-hours contracts

Labour had previously proposed a total ban on zero-hours contracts, which it views as “exploitative”. This has been softened slightly, however Labour remains committed to “giving working people security in their day-to-day lives”. Further detail will be needed to see how that will be achieved.

M&P Commentary

Esther Marshall, specialist in Employment law, said:

“It is no surprise that the new Government has expressed a commitment to shifting protection away from employers to workers. Whilst we are awaiting the detail of how this is to be achieved, employers should keep a close eye on proposed legislation to keep ahead of the inevitable changes to come. Seeking advice from an employment law specialist at an early state is advisable whenever change is on the horizon.”

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