Labour triumphs in the General Election: key employment law proposals

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In a significant political shift, the Labour Party secured a decisive victory in the last week’s General Election, marking the start of a new era. This triumph is poised to bring considerable changes to employment law and the justice system, reflecting Labour’s progressive agenda and commitment to social justice.

Sir Kier Starmer has appointed Shabana Mahmood as Secretary of State for Justice, a distinguished lawyer and long-time advocate for judicial reform and social justice, who has been a vocal critic of the current state of the justice system, calling for more transparency, accessibility, and fairness. Mahmood’s appointment signals a clear intent to overhaul the justice system to make it more equitable and efficient.

Labour’s key proposals for employment law

Labour’s victory brings with it a comprehensive set of proposals aimed to “make work pay” and focuses on enhancing workers’ rights and improve working conditions across the country. This could certainly provide challenges for businesses as this is likely to be the biggest overhaul employment rights in over 20 years.

The key manifesto proposals are:

1. Strengthening workers’ rights: Labour plans to bolster protections for workers by ensuring stronger rights to job security, fair pay, and safe working conditions. This includes proposals to:

  • ban exploitative zero-hour contracts (which will be likely to involve requiring a minimum number of hours each week);
  • make unfair dismissal a day 1 right (likely following completion of a probationary period);
  • make flexible working the default option for all jobs;
  • enhance sick pay and parental leave rights;
  • require for all employers over 250 employees to have a Menopause Action Plan;
  • ensure the new requirement for employers to proactively ensure there is no sexual harassment in the workplace is robust;
  • increase Employment Tribunal time limits to 6 months rather than the current.

2. Raising the minimum wage: one of Labour’s cornerstone promises is to raise the national minimum wage to ensure a living wage for all workers, reducing in-work poverty and stimulate economic growth through increased consumer spending. The plan is to remove the age bandings so that all adults are entitled to receive National Living Wage.

3. Promoting equal pay: addressing the gender pay gap and promoting pay equity is another critical aspect of Labour’s employment law reforms, along with a focus on equal pay for ethnic minorities.

4. Support for Trade Unions: Labour is committed to supporting trade unions and strengthening collective bargaining rights. They will look to simplify the process for recognition and take steps to make industrial action easier. This includes repealing the Trade Union Act 2016, which Labour argues has placed undue restrictions on industrial action, and facilitating easier union recognition in workplaces.

5. Worker status: Labour will look to simplify employment status and align it with the tax regime, to reduce it to two status types only: employed and self-employed. How this will affect the number of employment rights currently only provided to employees remains to be seen.

Contact our employment law solicitors today

We will keep you updated as things progress within the new government. If you have any questions regarding any of the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist Employment Law team by using our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 191 5713.


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