Blured iconic bus and Big Ben in London, sunrise at Westminster Bridge

General election: employment watch – a quick reminder of the key employment law pledges made by the leading political parties

In the run up to this week’s general election, we’ve been providing regular updates on the employment law reforms proposed by the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Reform and SNP.

Our final article in this series will give you a brief reminder and overview of some of the key employment law proposals put forward by the various parties.

The Conservatives will reduce National Insurance for both employees and self-employed individuals. They will overhaul the fit note system by moving the responsibility for issuing fit notes away from GPs towards specialist work and health professionals and look at integrating this with a new ‘WorkWell’ service to provide support to help people manage their condition or get back to work. The Conservatives will amend the Equality Act 2010 to make it clear that ‘sex’ refers to ‘biological sex’ and they will continue implementing the Minimum Service Levels (MSL) legislation to reduce the effect of trade union strikes.

The Greens will give all workers equal rights from day 1 of employment and move towards reducing the working week to 4 days. They will reform pay by introducing a maximum 10:1 pay ratio so that the pay of the highest paid workers does not exceed 10 times the pay of the lowest paid workers, and they’ll increase minimum wage to £15 p/h (scrapping age brackets). They’ll work to strengthen collective rights by repealing anti-union legislation and extend equal pay protection to all protected characteristics and introduce further auditing/reporting obligations. The Greens will also push for a precautionary regulatory approach to AI to manage the future risks of AI in terms of bias, discrimination, equality, liberty and privacy issues.

Labour have promised to ban ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts and move to a single status of worker for all but the genuinely self-employed. All workers will be entitled to basic employment rights from day 1 (including unfair dismissal, parental leave, sick pay etc.). They will increase the time limit for bringing employment tribunal claims to six months and reform sick pay to remove the lower earnings limit and waiting period. Labour will strengthen collective bargaining and trade union rights by repealing MSL (and other) legislation and simplify the union recognition process. Equal pay protection will be extended, and additional pay gap reporting obligations will be introduced. They have pledged to introduce legislation within 100 days of government to bring in some of their proposals.

The Liberal Democrats will introduce a 20% higher minimum wage for zero-hour workers at times of normal demand and make all parental pay and leave ‘day 1’ rights. They will establish a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status in between employment and self-employment, with entitlements to basic rights such as minimum earnings levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement. The Lib Dems will reform SSP by removing the minimum earnings threshold and waiting period and will align the pay rate with the National Minimum Wage. Large employers will be required to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets.

Reform will abolish IR35 and raise the minimum income tax threshold to £20,000 (currently £12,600). They will replace the Equality Act 2010 which they say ‘requires discrimination in the name of positive action’ and abolish Diversity, Equality and Inclusion rules. They will scrap all EU Regulations (including employment laws) with immediate effect and leave the European Convention on Human Rights.

The SNP will scrap ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts, ban ‘fire and rehire’ and increase the minimum wage to at least the national living wage and scrap age brackets. They will create a single status of worker for all but the genuinely self-employed and reform SSP by removing the lower earnings limit and waiting period. They will reform parental leave and pay and protect the right to strike by demanding the next UK Government repeal the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act and Trade Union Act 2016.

Overall, most of the parties intend to drastically increase worker rights. With the polls predicting a huge Labour majority, it would be sensible for employers to consider how Labour’s proposals could impact their business, particularly given the promise of some legislation being introduced within 100 days of them entering government.

Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Robert Forsyth.