General election: employment watch – what are the Greens, Reform and the SNP promising in terms of employment law reform?

General election: employment watch – what are the Greens, Reform and the SNP promising in terms of employment law reform?

In light of the UK’s next general election taking place on 4 July 2024, we’re taking a look at some of the key promises relating to employment law made by the leading political parties.

Our previous articles explore what is being promised by the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour. In this article, we’ll look at the pledges made by the Green Party, Reform and the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The Greens have promised a number of drastic reforms to employment law (many of which are very similar to Labour’s proposals). Some of their key pledges include:

  • Day 1 rights – giving all workers (including those in the gig economy) equal rights from day 1 of employment. Labour has announced a similar policy.
  • Reform pay – introducing a maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public-sector organisations so that the pay of the highest paid workers does not exceed 10 times the pay of the lowest paid workers. Also increase minimum wage to £15 p/h (scrapping age brackets).
  • 4-day working week – reducing working hours and moving towards reducing the working week to 4 days.
  • Strengthen collective rights – repealing current anti-union legislation and replacing it with a Charter of Workers’ Rights.
  • AI – pushing for a precautionary regulatory approach to AI, aligning the UK approach with others (e.g. Europe) to support a coordinated response to future risks of AI, and addressing any resulting bias, discrimination, equality, liberty or privacy issues.
  • Equal pay – requiring all large and medium-size companies to carry out equal pay audits and redress any inequality uncovered both in terms of equal pay for equal work, and unfair recruitment/retention practices. Also extending pay-gap protections to all protected characteristics including ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

Reform’s ‘Contract’ is light on detail, but some of its key promises include:

  • Abolishing IR35 – to support sole traders who they say, ‘often work longer hours and take more risks’.
  • Replace the Equality Act 2010 – as they say it ‘requires discrimination in the name of positive action’. Also abolish Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) rules.
  • Scrap all EU Regulations – which would include employment laws, with immediate effect.
  • Leave the European Convention on Human Rights – and reform the Human Rights Act so that the rights of ‘law abiding people’ are put first.
  • Scrap thousands of laws ‘that hold back British business and damage productivity’ – this would include employment laws. Reform wants to make it ‘easier to hire and fire’ so that businesses can grow.

The SNP’s manifesto highlights their intention to get independence for Scotland and rejoin the European Union and the single market. In terms of employment reforms, again many of their policies are similar to Labour’s and some of the headline proposals include:

  • Scrap ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts, ban ‘fire and rehire’ practices and take action to close the gender pay gap – similar promises have been made by Labour.
  • Increase minimum wage – to at least the national living wage, to increase in line with inflation and scrap age brackets.
  • Create a single status of worker – for all but the genuinely self-employed.
  • Reform SSP – by scrapping the qualifying threshold to protect lower paid workers and removing the four-day waiting period.
  • Reform parental leave – this would involve increasing paid maternity leave to one year, with maternity pay set at 100% of average weekly earnings for the first 12 weeks, then 90% for 40 weeks or £185.00, whichever is lower. Increase shared parental leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with the additional 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, in order to encourage an increase in shared parental leave.
  • Protect the right to strike – by demanding the next UK Government repeal the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act and Trade Union Act 2016.

Overall, a very mixed bag in terms of employment law proposals, with Reform clearly aiming to reduce legislation and plainly prioritise the interests of businesses, whereas the Greens and SNP clearly see increasing workers’ rights as a key issue involving significant legal reform.

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