Article, Employment Law

A changing political landscape? What the impact of the election will have on Employment Law and on your business.

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You will have been hard-pressed not to have heard the news that the public will be heading to the polls on the 4th of July to cast their vote for whom they consider should be awarded the prestige of running the country.

Many commentators are anticipating the possibility of a change in government based on current polling, with Labour retaining a commanding lead over the Conservatives. However, as the electorate vote goes, one thing is clear- it will be all change for employers when it comes to the existing Employment Law landscape. Whatever your political leaning, being aware of what may be coming down the track when it comes to your employment rights, obligations, and practices as an employer has never been more important. Being proactive in terms of your existing employment practices is also going to be important- some of these changes could be introduced very quickly and so getting your managers up to speed with tailored training should be taken as a priority.

This article will look at the key manifesto promises of the three main political parties (Labour, Conservatives, and Liberal Democrats). There are some interesting pledges throughout (especially from the Liberal Democrats—so do read to the end!). If you would like to discuss any of these changes or options for management training either now or once we know who the next Prime Minister is going to be, do not hesitate to contact the Howarths Employment Law Team on 01274 864999.

Here we go…


If Labour were to win the election it will no doubt have a significant impact on the future of employment law in Great Britain, with the prospect of a “New Deal for Working People” being introduced.

Labour have proposed a whole raft of changes and have very clearly signalled an appetite for major reform. If the polls are accurate, employers could have an awful lot to contend with when it comes to their employment law obligations.

Some of the key proposals put forward in the Labour manifesto include:

  • Making unfair dismissal a right from day one of employment as opposed to the current two years
  • The introduction of new rights to sick pay and parental leave
  • Making it unlawful in most cases to dismiss a woman during pregnancy or within 6 months of her return to work
  • Strengthening of employee rights under TUPE
  • Removing the existing national minimum wage age bands so that all adult workers receive the benefit of the highest rate of pay
  • An automatic default entitlement to flexible working from day one (as opposed to a right of request)
  • Introducing the time limit to bring tribunal claims from 3 months to 6 months
  • Removal of the distinction between employee and worker status. This could have significant effects on an employer’s NI and tax obligations and will increase the pool of individuals with full employment rights – thus increasing employer risk
  • The introduction of a new Race Equality Act to address equal pay and to “root out other equalities”
  • The introduction of mandatory ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting for employers with more than 250 staff
  • The banning of zero-hour contracts
  • Allowing collective grievances to be lodged with ACAS, opening a new channel of formal action against an employer
  • Relaxing of trade union laws
  • Introduction of a right to switch off
  • Introduction of mandatory menopause action plan reporting.


If the Conservatives are re-elected, we can expect to see a hold to much of the current status quo, although we have already seen proposals implemented around the tightening up of the accessibility of fit notes for those with anxiety and depression. It also seems likely that they will re-introduce tribunal fees.

Some additional proposals included within the Conservative Party’s manifesto include:

  • The introduction of legislation that seeks to add clarity to the Equality Act’s existing references to sex and gender and which seeks to build on the premise that “biological sex is a reality.” The legislation would clarify that the reference to “sex” in the Equality Act is a reference to biological sex.
  • All school leavers aged 18 would be required to complete a period of mandatory National Service.
  • Maintenance of national minimum wage rates at the current level of two-thirds of median earnings in each year. Based on current forecasts this would see the NMW rise to £13.00 per hour.

The Conservatives have previously announced their intention to introduce a statutory cap of three months on non-compete clauses in all worker and employment contracts. This would limit an employer’s ability to prevent former employees from working for competitors.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, “For a Fair Deal,” contains some quite radical reforms, especially around NMW rates and the payment of SSP. Should the Liberal Democrats be elected, employers may face increased staffing costs in several areas.

The Liberal Democrats have proposed a big legislative change: the introduction of a new protected characteristic under the Equality Act: “caring.” Under this proposal, employers would be required to make reasonable adjustments to enable employees with caring responsibilities to provide that care. The Liberal Democrats would also introduce paid carer’s leave and a statutory guarantee of respite breaks.

For those who work in social care, there would be an increase to their pay, which would see them £2 an hour higher than the national minimum wage as a starting point.

Further proposals include:

  • Giving staff in listed companies with over 250 employees the right to request shares to be held in trust for the benefit of employees
  • Scrapping of the lower apprentice rate and increasing pay in line with standard NMW rates.
  • Establishing a new “dependent contractor” status in between employment and self-employment with entitlements to basic rights, including holiday and sick pay
  • Introducing an automatic flexible working right to all employees
  • Giving every disabled person the right to work from home should they wish to do so
  • Introduction of gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBTQ+ employment levels, pay gaps, and progression
  • Make parental pay and leave day one rights and extend these rights to self-employed workers
  • Increase statutory maternity and shared parental pay to £350 per week
  • Increase paternity pay to 90% of earnings
  • Extension of SSP to all employees, including those earning less than £123 per week
  • Aligning SSP to the NMW rate and it being payable from day one of sickness instead of the fourth

Suppose we all ought to watch this space!

Written by Charlotte Geesin, Legal and Compliance Director at Howarths.

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