Employment Law Plans

With the general election coming up on 4th July we have been looking at the manifestos of the four main UK parties and what they say on employment law.

The Conservative manifesto 2024

As readers of these bulletins over recent years will know, there have been various developments in employment law through this last Conservative Government, however a look at the Conservative manifesto 2024 reveals little in terms of immediate plans this Government has to change employment law.

The Conservatives last year outlined some plans to limit restrictive covenants and tinker with areas of TUPE and one can imagine therefore that,were they to be re-elected, such proposals (and others we have seen before and were talking about at the start of this year in previous bulletins) may come back to the statute books.

The Conservatives certainly aren’t however headlining with any major changes to employment law in their manifesto other than the following:

  • Changing the Fit Note system in order to relieve pressure on GPs and involve more other healthcare specialists;
  • Progress their previous plans for minimum service level agreements in order to mitigate the effects of industrial action.  

In summary, there is nothing big or new proposed if Rishi Sunak is re-elected on 5th July.

The Liberal Democrats

You don’t have to be Professor John Curtis to suggest that it is unlikely the Liberal Democrats will form the next majority Government on 5th July.  There is clearly however a possibility of cooperation between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party if not an outright coalition and as readers will be aware the Liberal Democrats can sometimes hold the balance of power in Parliament.  Their employment law proposals are therefore worth reading.

The Liberal Democrats manifesto pledges are quite extensive so here are just some of the main ones:

  • Expand Pay Gap Reporting to require large employers to publish data on ethnicity, disability and LGBT information and other suggestions for publishing diversity targets;  
  • Simplifying and changing Access to Work Scheme to try to help disabled people;
  • Increasing Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP), making parental leave a right from day one rather than having a service requirement;
  • Extending the Equality Act to include new protected characteristics relating to care/caring;
  • Increasing National Minimum Wage for zero-hour contract workers to compensate for being on zero hours;
  • Increasing SSP rights so that it applies from day one and removing the lower earnings limit;
  • Changing the law in Employment Tribunals in relation to the burden of proof so that the burden falls on the employer to disprove employment status (rather than the current position where the burden of proof is on the Claimant).


There are some fairly extensive plans therefore from the Liberal Democrats, but nothing like the changes proposed by the Labour Party (see below).


As you are probably aware Reform refer to their manifesto as a ‘contract’ rather than a manifesto, not that this is likely to make much difference.

The proposals in Reform’s manifesto are fairly broad brush and a lot are statements of intent without detailed analysis of how in reality some of the changes would operate.  The main headlines for Reform would be as follows:

  • Scrapping EU Regulations with immediate effect.  Some hardline Brexiteers proposed this several years ago, before the Government and lawyers realised the chaos that would ensue if the application of EU laws and regulations were all immediately shelved, given that there have been decades of decisions creating stability for business etc.  Reform however pledge to get rid of all EU regulations immediately;
  • They plan to get rid of IR35 rules to assist sole traders.  These are HMRC rules which are aimed at individuals taking advantage of more favourable tax status.  Reform sees these as anti-competitive and would do away with them;
  • There is a general statement that it believes there are thousands of laws (including employment laws) that hold back business and Reform says it will scrap those laws, but there is no detail;
  • Finally, Reform says it will replace the Equality Act 2010 saying it is a licence to print money for lawyers.  It argues that the Equality Act has led to exclusion for some in majority groups and creates huge administrative burden.  


Clearly given that the Equality Act contains all developments in discrimination law going back to 1975 this would be pretty radical.  Whilst some would argue the Equality Act sometimes goes too far, many would question whether many would want a return to the laws on discrimination in this country from the early 1970s?


A few weeks ago, we posted on the MILS website an analysis of some of the main points in Labour’s plans.  See https://www.mils.co.uk/legal-articles/labour-party-election-plans-for-employment-law/ to read.

In the manifesto Labour promises an Employment Bill in the first 100 days.  Note of course that an Employment Bill does not mean it becomes law and these things can sometimes take longer, be dropped after consultation or run up against opposition in the Lords, if the changes appear to be ill thought through.

Predicting therefore exactly what changes will happen in employment law is not an exact science, however here are a list of some of the main changes that are proposed (whether in the first 100 days, or part of Labour’s plans for the next few years):

  • Removing unfair dismissal service criteria from 2 years to a day one right, possibly subject to more robust probationary periods where employers can dismiss more easily;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of Tribunal awards and looking at potential liability of Directors for awards, although it is not known how far this will go or what it means;
  • Extending employment rights to ‘workers’ so that workers effectively have the same employment rights as the main protected category of ‘employees’;
  • The proposed ending of “fire and re-hire”;
  • Introducing a new active duty to prevent third party harassment on employers;
  • Increasing the time in which Tribunal claims can be brought from the present usual deadline of 3 months (but no detail yet on the extension);
  • Introducing consultation for employers and employees to create workplace policies for a right to ‘switch off’ from work;
  • Increasing their union rights in the workplace, in a number of different ways;
  • Lifting the compensation cap for unfair dismissal;
  • Mirroring Gender Pay Gap Reporting with ethnic groups and disabilities;
  • Introducing a new concept of ‘dual discrimination’;
  • Introducing rights for equal pay claims for BAME and disabled employees;
  • Banning (or at least further regulating) zero-hour contracts;
  • Introducing a need for large employers to have a menopause policy;
  • Increasing National Minimum Wage and abolishing age bands that discriminate against younger adults.


If Kier Starmer is Prime Minister on July 5th, it looks like it is going to be a very busy time in employment law over the coming years so businesses will need to plan and inevitably the administrative burden will increase.  

The major worry from a legal perspective is that several of the above proposals combined are likely to put extra pressure on the already creaking Employment Tribunal system so, without a massive increase in funding for the Courts and Tribunals, delays in litigation are likely to increase.  Substantial delays almost always inevitably lead to poorer justice.