UK General Election 2024: Employment Law Manifestos

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As the UK approaches the General Election on 4 July 2024, political parties have laid out their manifestos, each presenting distinct visions for employment law reform. This article outlines the key employment law proposals from the major parties (within England).

Labour Party

The Labour Party’s manifesto emphasises workers’ rights, fair pay, and job security. Key proposals include:

  • Increased ‘Day 1’ Rights: including entitlement to sick pay, parental leave and, most significantly, unfair dismissal (currently two years). Labour’s New Deal document does caveat this recognising probationary periods will have a special status.
  • Raising the Minimum Wage: Labour pledges to alter the criteria for determining national minimum wage to include consideration of the cost of living and the removal of the current age bandings, meaning all adults would be entitled to the same NMW.
  • Banning ‘Exploitative’ Zero-Hours Contracts: to combat job insecurity, Labour plans to ban ‘exploitative’ zero-hours contracts rather than an outright ban meaning it is likely workers will be entitled to a minimum number of guaranteed hours each week, reducing the uncertainty associated with such contracts.
  • Enhancing Trade Union Rights: Labour aims to strengthen trade unions by simplifying the process for union recognition and allowing for easier industrial action. Labour may also seek to repeal the Trade Union Act 2016.
  • Race Equality Act: with a particular focus on equal pay for ethnic minorities, protecting against “dual discrimination” and to “root out” other racial inequalities.
  • Employment Tribunal Time Limits: increased to six months from the current three months.
  • Menopause: a requirement for employers with more than 250 employees to have a “Menopause Action Plan”.
  • Introducing a Four-Day Work Week: one of Labour’s biggest sponsors would like to see the introduction of a four-day working week for all workers.
  • Flexible Working Rights: Labour promises to make flexible working the default option for all jobs. Employers will have to provide a justified reason for rejecting flexible working requests.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party’s manifesto on employment law is relatively ‘light touch’ but in the main focuses on flexibility and business support:

  • Fit Notes: the Conservatives plan to ‘overhaul’ the ‘fit note’ system shifting responsibility towards specialist work and health professionals rather than GPs.
  • Apprenticeships and Skills Training: they propose expanding apprenticeship schemes and investing in skills training to help workers adapt to changing job markets with the introduction of 100,000 high quality apprenticeships – by “curbing rip off university fees”.
  • Mandatory National Service: there has been much discussion around the Conservatives’ plan to introduce mandatory ‘National Service’ for those aged 18, with their view being that this will assist with life skills for young people.
  • Cutting National Insurance: to 6% with a long-term ambition of abolishing it altogether and abolishing it for self-employed people by the end of the next parliament.
  • Protected Characteristic of Sex: the Conservatives propose to introduce a law clarifying that the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act 2010 means biological sex and so an individual can only have one sex in the eyes of the law.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats emphasise a balanced approach to workers’ rights and business flexibility:

  • Increasing National Minimum Wage: by 20% for people on zero-hour contracts “at times of normal demand” to compensate them for the inherent uncertainty in these types of arrangements. The Liberal Democrats also vow to scrap the lower apprentice rate.
  • Introduce New Protected Characteristics: of “caring” and “care experience”.
  • Doubling Maternity and Paternity Pay: to £350 per week, as well as making parental leave and pay a day one right.
  • Supporting Small Businesses: They plan to offer grants and tax incentives to small businesses to help them adapt to new regulations and improve working conditions.
  • Encouraging Employee Ownership: the Liberal Democrats support policies to encourage employee ownership schemes, giving workers a stake in the companies they work for and promoting a sense of shared success.
  • Improve SSP: introducing it from day one and removing the lower earnings limit.

The Green Party

The Green Party focuses on sustainability and fair employment practices:

  • Living Wage Increase: the Greens propose a significant increase in the minimum wage, aiming for £15 per hour, with the costs to small businesses offset by reducing their National Insurance payments.
  • Strengthening Workers’ Rights: The Greens aim to strengthen employment protections, particularly for gig economy workers, ensuring they receive fair pay and benefits, with ‘gig employers’ whom repeatedly breach these rules being denied licences to operate.
  • Trade Unions: strengthening trade unions’ positions by repealing anti-union legislation and introducing a new law with the “right to strike at its heart”.
  • Four-Day Working Week: a move to a four-day working week.
  • Courts: the Greens vow to “repair and renew our crumbling court system with a £2.5bn investment”.

Reform UK

Reform UK’s manifesto is, as with the Conservatives, relatively light touch on their employment law proposals. The main proposals outlined in their manifesto include:

  • Scrapping 6,700 Laws: “that hold back British business and damage productivity, including employment laws which make it riskier to hire people.”
  • Equality Act 2010: as it requires discrimination in the name of “positive action”. Reform UK also propose to scrap Diversity, Equality & Inclusion rules. Reform UK’s position is that this legislation costs the economy billions of pounds in reduced economic productivity, spreads division and leads to exclusion in majority groups.
  • Abolishing IR35: to support sole traders.

Reform UK also, in its first 100 days, pledge to:

  • Increased Personal Allowance: to £20,000;
  • Two Strike Rule for Jobseekers: all jobseekers and those fit to work must find employment within four months or accept a job at two offers. Repercussions include having benefits withdrawn.

Contact our employment law solicitors today

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.

If you have received notification of a claim against your business, our employment law team would be happy to conduct a review of the claim form (ET1) free of charge.


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