Legal development

Employment Law Changes: What to expect following Labour winning the UK General Election



    With a Labour Party victory at the polls their agenda for changes to workplace rights and protections will come into sharp focus. If implemented, these will reshape employment law as we know it.

    The Labour Party plans to implement ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People’, introducing legislation to achieve this within 100 days. Although no exact timetable has been provided at this stage, Labour have noted that they will consult fully with businesses, workers and civil society on how to put their plans into practice before legislation is passed.

    “Britain’s outdated employment laws are not fit for the modern economy.”

    “Labour will stop the chaos and turn the page to create a partnership between business and trade unions, by implementing ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People’ in full – introducing legislation within 100 days.”

    Source: The Labour Party Manifesto 2024

    Labour's New Deal – Ending "one-sided flexibility"

    Labour say they will...

    • end ‘one sided’ flexibility, ban zero hours contracts and ensure everyone has the right to have a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work, based on a twelve-week reference period;
    • reform the law on ‘fire and rehire’ to provide effective remedies against abuse and replace the statutory code brought in by the Government with a strengthened code of practice;
    • introduce basic individual rights from day one for all workers including parental and sick leave as well as ending the current system that leaves workers waiting up to two years to access rights of protection against unfair dismissal. Probationary periods can still be used;
    • move from a three-tier system towards a single status of worker and transition towards a simpler two-part framework for employment status. Labour will consult in detail on a simpler framework that differentiates between workers and the self-employed;
    • strengthen redundancy rights and protections, for example, by ensuring the right to redundancy consultation is determined by the number of people impacted across the business rather than in one workplace;
    • strengthen the existing set of rights and protections for workers subject to TUPE processes;
    • strengthen protection for whistleblowers, including by updating protection for women who report sexual harassment at work; and
    • strengthen rights and protections to help self-employed workers thrive in good quality self-employment, including the right to a written contract, which for example would benefit freelancers, action to tackle late payments, and by extending health and safety and blacklisting protections to self-employed workers.

    Labour's New Deal – Family friendly rights

    Labour say they will...

    • make flexible working the default from day one for all workers, except where it is not reasonably feasible;
    • review the parental leave system within the first year of a Labour government so that it best supports working families;
    • strengthen protections for pregnant women by making it unlawful to dismiss a woman who is pregnant for six months after her return, except in specific circumstances;
    • bring in the ‘right to switch off’. It is envisaged that workers and employers can work together on bespoke workplace policies or contractual terms regarding this right;
    • work with workers and their trade unions, employers and experts to examine what AI and new technologies mean for work, jobs and skills, and how to promote best practice in safeguarding against the invasion of privacy through surveillance technology, spyware and discriminatory algorithmic decision making; and
    • at a minimum ensure that proposals to introduce surveillance technologies would be subject to consultation and negotiation, with a view to agreement, of trade unions or elected staff representatives where there is no trade union. Where there is a collective agreement relating to surveillance the proposal will not override the agreement.

    Labour's New Deal – Fair pay

    Labour say they will...

    • change the Low Pay Commission’s remit so that alongside median wages and economic conditions, the minimum wage will reflect the need for pay to take into account the cost of living;
    • remove the discriminatory age bands to ensure every adult worker benefits and will work with the Single Enforcement Body and HMRC and ensure they have the powers necessary to make sure our genuine living wage is properly enforced, including penalties for non-compliance;
    • strengthen statutory sick pay, remove the lower earnings limit to make it available to all workers and remove the waiting period;
    • ban unpaid internships except when they are part of an education or training course; and
    • establish a new Fair Pay Agreement in the adult social care sector, empowering workers and the trade unions that represent them to negotiate fair pay and conditions, including staff benefits, terms and training, underpinned by rights for trade unions to access workplaces, in a regulated and responsible manner, for recruitment and organising purposes.

    Labour's New Deal – Voices at work

    Labour say they will...

    • update trade union legislation, removing unnecessary restrictions on trade union activity and ensuring industrial relations are based around good faith negotiation and bargaining;
    • Repeal the Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022;
    • allow modern, secure, electronic balloting and workplace ballots;
    • simplify the process of union recognition and the law on statutory recognition thresholds, so that working people have a right to organise through trade unions;
    • review the process for statutory recognition claims and remove the rule that means that unions must show that at least 50% of workers are likely to support their claim before the process has even begun;
    • also modernise the rules governing the final ballot in which workers vote on whether to recognise a trade union, requiring unions to gain a simple majority to win;
    • ensure reasonable access within workplaces by introducing a transparent framework and clear rules, designed in consultation with unions and business, that allow unions officials to meet, represent, recruit and organise members, provided they give appropriate notice and comply with reasonable requests of the employer, as in other models already present in successful economies;
    • create new rights and protections for trade unions representatives to undertake their work; and
    • update regulations to outlaw the use of predictive technologies for blacklisting and safeguard against singling out workers for mistreatment or dismissal without any evidence of human interaction.

    Labour's New Deal – Equality at work

    Labour say they will...

    • put in place measures to ensure that outsourcing of services can no longer be used by employers to avoid paying equal pay, including for work of equal value, to women;
    • implement a regulatory and enforcement unit for equal pay with involvement from trade unions;
    • enact the socioeconomic duty under Section 1 of the Equality Act which will apply to public bodies;
    • introduce a Race Equality Act for the full right to equal pay for Black, Asian and other ethnic minority people;
    • require large firms to develop, publish and implement action plans to close their gender pay gaps, and ensure outsourced workers are included in their gender pay gap and pay ratio reporting;
    • make the publication of ethnicity and disability pay gaps mandatory for employers with more than 250 staff, to mirror gender pay gap reporting; and
    • require large employers with more than 250 employees to produce Menopause Action Plans, setting out how they will support employees through the menopause.

    Labour's New Deal – Rights at work

    Labour say they will...

    • establish a Single Enforcement Body with trade union and TUC representation, to ensure greater coordination in the face of complex enforcement challenges. This body will have the powers it needs to undertake targeted and proactive enforcement work and bring civil proceedings upholding employment rights;
    • increase the time limit within which employees are able to make an employment tribunal claim from three months to six months, bringing the time limit for all claims in line with the time limit for statutory redundancy and equal pay claims;
    • enable employees to collectively raise grievances about conduct in their place of work, to ACAS. This will be in line with the existing code for individual grievances;
    • require employers to create and maintain workplaces and working conditions free from harassment, including by third parties; and
    • strengthen the legal duty for employers to take all reasonable steps to stop sexual harassment.

    The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to.
    Readers should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.


    Stay ahead with our business insights, updates and podcasts

    Sign-up to select your areas of interest