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General Election – what’s ahead for HR?

With the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday of a 4 July election, the starting gun has been fired and the race is on. But this particular race is not a dash or a sprint (although the good people in the headquarters of the main parties may think otherwise) – for those in HR, it’s more like a marathon. We need to see how it unfolds - all 26.2 metaphorical miles. What will the parties promise? Which of those promises will follow through to action? And when will those actions become reality?

The Labour Party has been vocal about the changes they intend to make should they win power. That said, over the last couple of months we have seen some softening of the harder statements made. What are some of their headline ideas?  (This is by no means a comprehensive list):

  • Zero-hours contracts – originally these were to be abolished under the 2021 Green Paper, however, Rachel Reeves in March suggested that this would not be the case. Workers on these contracts would be given the right to request more predictable hours after 12 weeks of work. Not unlike the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, due to come into force in the autumn. 
  • Fire and rehire – the promise to ban this practice has again been softened and a more stringent code of practice is promised. The current ACAS code of practice is in force from July 2024. 
  • Day-one rights – day-one rights such as unfair dismissal to employees could have a huge impact both for employers and for an already overwhelmed tribunal system. A probationary period would still be ring-fenced as it is now so employers might want to start considering extending out that period in their contracts.
  • One category of employees – the extension of employee rights could have a greater impact given the Labour Party has announced their intention to have only one category of employees. There will be no ‘subcategory’ of workers; all workers and employees will have the same rights. The only individuals who will not be employees will be genuinely self-employed people. This change will need separate legislation and we are expecting an employment bill will be introduced shortly should they win the election. However, the changes will then take time as the bill will need to go through the parliamentary processes and have a transition period. 

Other proposals which are less headline-grabbing relate to returning third-party harassment protection for employees, the right to disconnect, strengthening the trade unions, extending time limits for tribunals and abolishing compensation limits. 

The Conservative Party have not made bold promises or changes. They have been busy in the last six months bringing in new legislation, some of which is still to come into force. We know that tribunal fees are being considered and the current whistleblowing system has been under review for some years as the Government think it is unfit for purpose. They are likely to pursue their back to work plan, announced last November which is concerned with tackling the levels of absenteeism in the workplace. Their review of sick notes is part of that process.

What now?

  • We will know more once the manifestos are released and we have more information to work with.
  • We will update and inform you of these developments and their relevance to the various sectors - subscribe to my blogs, and follow Anthony Collins on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) if you wish to stay updated.
  • We will offer practical suggestions for your sector, including preparations to put in place should we have a change in Government and how that will affect your workforce and its practices.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss any of this further. 

Tags

employment, all sectors, hr, generalelection