Wed 12 Jun 2024

Labour Party Manifesto: what could a Labour win in the general election mean for Employment Law?

On 13 June 2024, the Labour Party published its manifesto for the UK general election taking place on 4 July 2024. 

The manifesto itself does not expand on what the Labour Party has already published regarding the specific employment law proposals they would seek to implement should they form the next UK Government. 

As expected, the Labour Party's manifesto sets out that it will implement the proposals contained within "Labour's Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People" ("the Make Work Pay document") in full. It is intended that some legislation will be introduced in the first 100 days of office. Our previous update on Labour's general election proposals provides a summary of the changes proposed by the Make Work Pay document. 

Key employment law pledges arising from the manifesto: 

  • The headline for the Labour Party's "Make Work Pay" section of their manifesto notes that "Britain’s outdated employment laws are not fit for the modern economy. Labour will implement our plan to ‘Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People" 
  • The Labour Party intend to consult with businesses, workers and civil society regarding how their plans could be put into practice before any legislation is passed
  • It is explicitly noted that the Labour Party would ban "exploitative zero hours contracts", end fire and rehire and introduce basic rights "from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal"
  • A Single Enforcement Body would be created "to ensure employment rights are upheld"
  • The remit of the independent Low Pay Commission would be changed so it takes account of the cost of living
  • The manifesto notes Labour would ensure all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage. 

There is also a significant number of equality related proposals set out in the manifesto. While there is no explanation of how these will be implemented, key pledges include:

  • Strengthening equal pay protections for women and protections from maternity and menopause discrimination as well as sexual harassment
  • Reducing the gender pay gap and introducing disability and ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers
  • Ensuring full rights for equal pay for black, Asian and other ethnic minorities, strengthening protections against dual discrimination and rooting out other racial inequalities via a "landmark" Race Equality Act
  • Supporting disabled people back to work and ensuring full rights for equal pay
  • Modernising the "outdated gender recognition process" while retaining the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis and continuing to support the single sex exceptions in the Equality Act 2010
  • Enacting the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010

Conservative Party 

The Conservative Party published its manifesto on 11 June 2024.

Although the Conservative Party manifesto makes little reference to specific employment law commitments, it  specifically notes that should the party form the next UK Government they "will ensure the UK retains the flexible and dynamic labour market that gives businesses the confidence to create jobs and invest in their workforce". 

Key employment law pledges arising from the Conservative Party manifesto: 

  • The fit note process would be overhauled so individuals are not signed off "as a default". This would also see the system shift from GPs issuing fit notes to more specialist work and health professionals
  • The Equality Act 2010 would be amended to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex means biological sex. Legislation would also be passed to ensure schools (in England and Wales) must follow guidance for teachers on how best to support gender questioning students in schools and colleges
  • The National Living Wage would be maintained at the current level of two thirds of median earnings in each year of the next Parliament
  • The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 would continue to be implemented

It is also expected that the current legislative agenda would continue if the Conservative Party were to  form the next government. This would include, for example, the right to neonatal care leave and pay (due to come into force in April 2025). 

If you missed our Essential Employment Law webinar on this topic, a recording of it can be found at Essential Employment Law Webinar: What to expect in employment law if Labour win the next general election.

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