How Could Employment Law Change If Labour Wins

How Could Employment Law Change If Labour Wins

As we await with bated breath for the outcome of the next general election on 4 July 2024, opinion polls currently suggest that Mr. Sunak may not return to No. 10.

Labour’s revised document “Plan to Make Work Pay,” demonstrates that if they come into power they plan to make some significant changes to employment law which would result in increased employment rights.

Labour have indicated that they plan to introduce a draft bill within 100 days of coming into power.

New Rights for Workers from Day One

Labour plans to introduce the right to claim unfair dismissal as a Day One right.

While employers can still dismiss employees for valid reasons such as conduct, capability, etc., and use probationary periods to assess new recruits' suitability, the new law will require employers to ensure fairness, transparency, and detailed documentation of performance during probation. They must also have one of the 5 legally fair reasons for dismissing short service employees and follow a robust and fair process before making a decision to dismiss.

Labour also proposes to make sick pay Day One right by removing the 3 day waiting period and the requirement for workers to earn at least the lower earnings limit to be eligible for sick pay.

Family Friendly Rights from Day One

Labour seeks to strengthen family friendly rights by making all types of family friendly leave, including maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption, carers, parental, and bereavement leave, available from the first day of employment. Additional measures include:

  • Making it unlawful to dismiss a person for 6 months after returning from family friendly leave, except in specific circumstances.
  • Clarifying and potentially strengthening carers' leave and bereavement leave rights.

Reform of Employment Status

Labour proposes merging the statuses of employee and worker into a single status of worker, granting the full array of employment rights to all workers. This would result in 2 statuses: worker and self employed.

Labour also plans to strengthen rights for self employed contractors by granting them the right to receive a written contract, taking action against late payments, and extending health and safety protections.

Right to Disconnect from Work

Labour proposes to introduce a right for all workers to disconnect outside of working hours. Key aspects include:

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

These models do not impose a blanket ban on out-of-hours contact but allow employers and workers to agree on boundaries.

Ban on 'Exploitative' Zero Hours Contracts

Labour aims to end 'one-sided' flexibility by banning 'exploitative' zero hours contracts. They propose ensuring all jobs provide a baseline level of security and predictability, granting everyone the right to have a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work, based on a 12 week reference period.

Ban on Fire and Rehire

Labour proposes strengthening protection against employers using the threat of dismissal to force employees to accept negative changes to their terms and conditions. They plan to issue a robust code of practice to ensure a fair and transparent consultation process between workers and employers.

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