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General Election 2024 – what are the various parties’ proposals relating to employment law?

July 2024

While many may feel that the outcome of today’s General Election is a foregone conclusion, we felt it was important to look at each of the political parties’ manifestos to consider what they are proposing in the field of employment law – and what the consequences of these might be. 

Some of the parties have announced extensive proposals (which could mean the Lawrence Stephens’ Employment team will be extremely busy over the coming months!) while others have caused us to wonder how they will be implemented in light of recent court rulings / existing legislation.

If you have any questions on how the general election may affect your obligations as an employer, please contact any member of our Employment Team (see end of article).


In summary, Labour propose to:

  • Introduce a day one right to sick pay, parental leave and unfair dismissal;
  • Extend Employment Tribunal time limits for bringing all claims from three months to six months;
  • Ban “exploitative” zero hours contracts (which means an outright ban on such contracts is unlikely);
  • End fire and rehire (although Labour’s New Deal document indicates they would stop short of an outright ban);
  • Set up a single enforcement body to enforce workers’ rights;
  • Alter the criteria for determining national minimum wage so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage;
  • Create a “Fair Pay Agreement” to allow for sectoral collective bargaining in the adult social care sector;
  • Give employees the right to have a contract which reflects the hours they regularly work based on a 12-week reference period;
  • Require employers with more than 250 employees to have a menopause action plan;
  • Place new duties on large employers to produce ethnicity and disability pay gap reports;
  • Make collective redundancy consultation requirements dependent on the number of redundancies across the whole business rather than the number at each ‘establishment’;
  • Require section 1 statements to inform staff of their right to join a trade union;
  • Introduce a right to ‘switch off’;
  • Consult on an eventual move towards a single status of worker, incorporating all but the genuinely self-employed;
  • Make flexible working a default right unless employers have a ‘good reason’ to refuse it;
  • Reverse the changes made under the Trade Union Act 2016 (which placed more stringent requirements on those engaging in industrial action);
  • Abolish the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023;
  • Remove the requirement for fully postal ballots for industrial action;
  • Make it easier for unions to gain recognition;
  • Give trade unions the right to access workplaces for recruitment and organising purposes; and
  • Introduce a right to unpaid bereavement leave (which is currently only available following the death of a child).

The full manifesto can be found here:


In summary, the Conservatives propose to:

  • Overhaul the fit note system to move responsibility from GPs to other healthcare professionals;
  • Continue with the implementation of minimum service level agreements in relation to industrial action;
  • Cut employee National Insurance contributions to 6% from 2027; and
  • Abolish National Insurance for self-employed people by the end of the next parliament.

It’s worth noting that the first two proposals are not new – a consultation on the fit note system had already started before the General Election was called and we already knew the Government planned to introduce minimum service levels during strikes in hospitals and schools. It looks largely like business as usual if the Conservatives are successful.

The full manifesto can be found here:

Liberal Democrats

In summary, the Lib Dems propose to:

  • Establish a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status between ‘employment’ and ‘self-employment’, with entitlements to basic rights such as minimum earnings levels, sick pay and holiday entitlement;
  • Increase minimum wage by 20% for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of earnings;
  • Promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with 250+ employees a ‘right to request’ shares;
  • Change the burden of proof in Employment Tribunal claims so that the employer has to disprove employment status, rather than the employee proving it;
  • Improve Statutory Sick Pay by removing the 3-day waiting period and lower earnings limit;
  • Extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes;
  • Make parental leave and pay day 1 rights;
  • Double Statutory Maternity Pay and Shared Parental Pay to £350pw;
  • Introduce a ‘use it or lose it’ month for fathers and partners, paid at 90% of earnings;
  • Introduce new Equality Act protected characteristics of ‘caring’ and ‘care experience’;
  • Require large employers to publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets;
  • Introduce specialist disability employment support and simplify the Access to Work scheme; and
  • Introduce ‘Adjustment Passports’ to record the adjustments, modifications and equipment a disabled person has received, and ensure that Access to Work support and equipment stays with the person if they change jobs.

While there are undoubtedly some proposals that will be attractive to the electorate, the proposed introduction of ‘dependent contractor’ employment status seems to be something of style over substance – aren’t these people already classified as ‘workers’? In addition, the proposed introduction of new protected characteristics of ‘caring’ and ‘care experience’ seems fraught with difficulties – it would certainly keep us employment lawyers busy with the courts grappling to put into practice what these terms actually mean…

The full manifesto can be found here:


In summary, Reform UK intend to:

  • Abolish IR35 rules to support sole traders;
  • ‘’Scrap thousands of laws that hold back British business and damage productivity, including employment laws that make it riskier to hire people’’;
  • Replace the Equality Act 2010;
  • Scrap all Diversity Equality and Inclusion roles that, “cost huge sums, create division, inequality and exclusion, and reduce productivity.’’; and
  • “Scrap EU Regulations with immediate effect. British Laws on [employment] are still based on EU regulations.”

I think it’s fair to say that Reform UK’s manifesto is somewhat light on the detail of how they plan to achieve the above…

The full manifesto can be found here:

Plaid Cymru

In summary, Plaid Cymru intend to:

  • Support the devolution of employment law to Wales;
  • Make paid bereavement and miscarriage leave a day 1 right;
  • Extend the entitlement to statutory bereavement leave and pay entitlement to all people with a ‘close relationship’ to a person who has died;
  • Increase Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in line with Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and remove the lower earnings limit;
  • Reform Shared Parental Leave;
  • Consider making Carer’s Leave paid;
  • Re-introduce the ‘bankers’ bonus cap’
  • Implement an apprenticeship living wage and pay social care workers at least £1 above the real living wage;
  • Investigate increasing higher earners’ National Insurance contributions and promote employee ownership models;
  • Reverse “the Tories’ regressive anti-strike legislation”;
  • Support legislation to tackle insecure work and outlaw fire and re-hire tactics;
  • Abolish compulsory zero-hours contracts;
  • Establish the right to ‘disconnect’;
  • Promote LGBTQ+ inclusion throughout society, including all workplaces, and propose a simplified, de-medicalised gender self-identification system;
  • Adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People into UK law and introduce a Business, Human Rights and Environment Bill which would mandate that private companies conduct due diligence in their supply chains to prevent human rights abuses; and
  • Put the power to decide Bank Holidays in Wales in the hands of the Senedd and make St David’s Day a Bank Holiday in Wales on 1 March each year.

There’s definitely some overlap here with the other manifestos described above (i.e. Labour’s pledge regarding the right to disconnect, as well as increasing SMP and SSP, reforming zero hours contracts and making some employment rights available from day 1).

However there are also some issues that are likely to be divisive, such as the proposal to introduce a simplified, de-medicalised gender self-identification system. How will this work in practice in light of such decision as Adams v Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, Meade v (1) Westminster City Council; and (2) Social Work England and Forstater v CGD Europe?

The full manifesto can be found here:


In summary, the SNP intend to:

  • Support the devolution of employment law to Scotland to enable changes such as banning ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts and ‘fire and rehire’, as well as increasing the level of the National Minimum Wage and removing the age brackets;
  • Create a single status of ‘worker’ for all but the ‘genuinely self-employed’;
  • Increase access to statutory sick pay by removing the lower earnings limit and the waiting period;
  • Increase the rate of Statutory Maternity Pay to 100% of average weekly earnings for the first 12 weeks, dropping to 90% of average weekly earnings or £150 (whichever is lower) for 40 weeks;
  • Increase the available period of 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 to encourage better uptake of the statutory right; and
  • Support the repeal of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 and the Trade Union Act 2016

Any of this sounding familiar?

The full manifesto can be found here:


In summary, the Green Party intend to:

  • Repeal anti-union legislation and introduce a ‘positive’ Charter of Workers’ Rights, containing a right to strike and a legal obligation on employers to recognise trade unions;
  • Remove ‘arbitrary’ ballot thresholds and requirements for postal ballots;
  • Overturn bans on secondary picketing and industrial action for political objectives;
  • Introduce a maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public-sector organisations;
  • Increase the national minimum wage to £15 an hour, regardless of age;
  • Campaign for ‘safe sick pay’;
  • Provide equal rights for all workers from their first day of employment, including platform workers, zero hours workers and those working in the ‘gig economy’;
  • Properly fund the enforcement of workers’ rights and abolish tribunal fees;
  • Move to a four-day working week;
  • Transition towards a green economy, led by workers and trade unions;
  • Establish an Offshore Energy and Skills Passport so that workers can transition between offshore energy industries;
  • Require all large and medium-sized companies to carry out equal pay audits, redress any inequalities and extend pay-gap protections to all protected characteristics;
  • Introduce a right to flexible working and ensure disabled workers have the in-job support they need, as well as ‘proper pay and conditions’;
  • ‘Defend’ the Human Rights Act 1998 and continued access to the European Court of Human Rights;
  • Protect the right to religious expression and support gender self-identification for trans and non-binary people; and
  • Push for a precautionary regulatory approach to the development of AI, ensuring that workers’ rights and interests are respected when AI leads to significant changes in working conditions.

The full manifesto can be found here:

If you have any questions on how the general election may affect your obligations as an employer – or any other employment law concerns, please contact any member of our Employment Team (see below).