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The general election is fast approaching so what do the parties have to say on various key aspects of employment law? 

In our recent bulletin, 'An update on Labour's plans, we discussed the details of the Labour Party's 'New Deal for Working People'. In its manifesto it commits to delivering on the promise set out in its New Deal document, so its plans have already been the subject of discussion since the end of May; but what about the other parties? Last week was full of news about party manifesto launches so we thought it was worth giving you an overview of what they have to say.

Employment rights

The Liberal Democrats state that they will "modernise employment rights to make them fit for the age of the "gig economy"". This will entail establishing a new "dependent contractor" employment status and reviewing the tax and NI status of employees, dependent contractors and freelancers to ensure fair and comparable treatment. They also propose to shift the burden of proof in employment tribunals regarding employment status from individual to employer. They will encourage employers to promote employee ownership by giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.   

The Greens will push for equal employment rights for all workers from their first day of employment, including those working in the gig economy and on zero-hours contracts.

While on the topic of zero-hour contracts Labour have stated that it will ban zero hours contracts and will ensure that everyone has the right to a contract reflecting the number of hours they regularly work based on a 12-week reference period. Labour also plans to introduce a single status of worker and transition towards a simpler two-part framework for employment status that differentiates between workers and the genuinely self-employed. It also plans basic individual rights for all workers from day one, though this will not prevent fair dismissal, or probationary periods "with fair and transparent rules and processes".

The Conservatives don't say anything about employment status, though they have stated that they will cut taxes to support the self-employed by abolishing the main rate of self-employed National Insurance entirely by the end of the Parliament (as well as cutting NI for workers by taking 2p off).  Meanwhile Reform UK has declared that it will abolish IR35 to support sole traders as well as stating its intention to slash business red tape "including employment laws that make it riskier to hire people".  


The Lib Dems have committed to establishing an independent review to recommend a genuine living wage across all sectors. They plan to set a 20% higher minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand to compensate them for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours of work. They will also make statutory sick pay available to those earning less than £123 a week and will align the rate with the NMW. Payments will be made from the first day of missing work rather than the fourth. 

They want to make careers in social care more attractive and to improve retention by creating a new Carer's Minimum Wage, boosting the minimum wage for care workers by £2 an hour. This is billed as a starting point for improved pay across the sector.

The Greens promise to push for an increase in the minimum wage to £15 an hour, no matter your age, with the costs to small businesses offset by reducing their NI payments. They will also push for a maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public sector organisations. They also pick up on care, and state that they will push for investment of £20bn in the care sector, some of which will go to increase pay rates and introduce a career structure for carers to rebuild the care workforce.

Labour will ensure that the minimum wage is a real living wage and takes the cost of living into account. The age bands will be removed. Labour states that it will strengthen statutory sick pay, removing the lower earnings limit to make it available to all workers and removing the waiting period.  

A commitment is made to fixing adult social care. Labour will introduce a New Deal for Social Care Workers to ensure that these workers have a route to better conditions, training and progression. It will establish a new Fair Pay Agreement (FPA) in the adult social care sector, empowering workers (and the trade unions that represent them) to negotiate fair pay and conditions.  

The Conservatives have committed to continuing with the implementation of their Minimum Service Levels legislation. They will also maintain the NLW in each year of the next Parliament at two-thirds of median earnings. The manifesto states that "on current forecasts, that would mean it rising to around £13 per hour".

Family Friendly

The Lib Dems have committed to making all parental pay and leave day-one rights, including for adoptive parents and kinship carers, and extending them to self-employed parents. Statutory Maternity and Shared Parental Pay will be increased to £50 a week. Paternity pay will be increased to 90% of earnings with a cap for high earners. The Lib Dems will introduce an extra use-it-or-lose-it month for fathers and partners, paid at 90% of earnings with a cap for high earners. When public finances allow, the Lib Dems aim to give all families (including self-employed parents, adoptive parents and kinship carers) six weeks of use-it-or-lose-it leave for each parent, paid at 90% of earnings, and 46 weeks of parental leave to share between themselves as they choose, paid at double the current statutory rate.

They will introduce paid neonatal care leave, as well as introducing a weekly allowance for all kinship carers. The Lib Dems have also pledged to double Statutory Maternity Pay and expand shared parental leave.

Labour commits to making flexible working the default from day one for all workers, except where this is not reasonably feasible. The parental leave system will be reviewed and parental leave will become a day one right. Maternity protections will be strengthened so that it will be unlawful to dismiss a woman for six months after her return to work except in specific circumstances. The provision of carer's leave will be reviewed and the benefits of introducing paid carers' leave will be examined.  

The Greens state that they will push for a move to a four-day working week.


The Lib Dems have pledged to uphold the UK's commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and to resist any attempts to withdraw from it. They will also make caring and care experience protected characteristics. They have committed to reforming the gender recognition process to remove the requirement for medical reports and recognise non-binary identities in law.

The Lib Dems will require large employers to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets. They will extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encourage their use in the private sector. The Lib Dems will provide additional support and advice to employers on neurodiversity in the workplace and aim to develop a cross-government strategy to tackle all aspects of discrimination faced by neurodiverse children and adults.

They have committed implementing what they term "a comprehensive Race Equality Strategy" and will also make it easier for disabled people to access public life. In terms of employment measures they will tackle the disability employment gap by implementing a targeted strategy to support disabled people into work, with specialist disability employment support. They will also raise employers' awareness of the Access to Work scheme and simplify and speed up the application process. They will 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. 

The Greens state that they will defend the Human Rights Act, the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and continued direct access to Convention rights in the domestic courts.  They will campaign for the right of self-identification for trans and non-binary people.

Labour commits to tackling the gender pay gap and put in place measures to ensure that outsourcing of services can no longer be used by employers to avoid paying equal pay, including for work of equal value, to women. It also commits to enacting the socioeconomic duty under the Equality Act and states that it will apply to public bodies, as well as committing to upholding the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Labour will require large firms to develop, publish and implement action plans to close their gender pay gaps and ensure that outsourced workers are included in gender pay gap and pay ratio reporting. The publication of ethnicity and disability pay gaps will also be made mandatory for employers with more than 250 staff.  Labour will also require employers with more than 250 staff to produce Menopause Action Plans, setting out how they will support employees through the menopause, and promises to publish guidance for employers on measures to consider in relation to the menopause.

Labour will introduce a Race Equality Act and will introduce the full right to equal pay for disabled people, and support them to work by improving employment support and access to reasonable adjustments. Labour commits to modernising, simplifying and reforming the existing gender recognition law. It pledges to remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition and acceptance, whilst retaining the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a specialist doctor, enabling access to the healthcare pathway. Labour also states that it will continue to support the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act 2010.

The Conservatives commit to protecting female-only spaces and competitiveness in sport by making clear that sex means biological sex in the Equality Act. Meanwhile, the Reform Party have pledged to repeal the Equality Act 2010 and leave the European Convention on Human Rights. They propose a comprehensive Free Speech Bill, and also want to introduce a British Bill of Rights.

Skills and training

The Lib Dems will invest in people's skills by replacing the apprenticeship levy with a broader and more flexible skills and training levy. They will boost the take-up of apprentices, including by guaranteeing they are paid at least the NMW by scrapping the lower apprentice rate. They will create a new Lifelong Skills Grant for adults to spend on education and training throughout their lives, and will develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need. They will identify and seek to solve skills gaps by expanding higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.  

Meanwhile, Labour states that it will establish a new body, Skills England, to bring together business, training providers and unions with national and local government to ensure that the country has the highly trained workforce needed to deliver Labour's Industrial Strategy.  Skills England will formally work with the Migration Advisory Committee to make sure training in England accounts for the overall needs of the labour market.  

Labour commits to reforming the Apprenticeships Levy and create a flexible Growth and Skills Levy, with Skills England consulting on eligible course to ensure qualifications offer value for money.

The Conservatives will create 100,000 more apprenticeships in England every year before the end of the next Parliament. They will deliver what they term "the Lifelong Learning Entitlement" which will give adults support to train, retrain and upskill flexibly throughout their working lives. They will also continue to expand their adult skills programmes, such as Skills Bootcamps which meet skills shortages.

Reform UK has promised tax relief for businesses that undertake apprenticeships.

And finally, trade unions!

The Greens will push for a repeal of current anti-union legislation and its replacement with a positive Charter of Workers' Rights, with the right to strike at its heart along with a legal obligation for all employers to recognise trade unions.
Labour has committed to updating trade union legislation and will repeal the Trade Union Act 2016 which introduced longer notice periods for industrial action, higher ballot thresholds for public services and a six-month expiry deadline for ballot mandates, as well as the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023.

It also states that it will simplify the process of union recognition and the law around statutory recognition thresholds, as well as ensuring that workers in precarious and gig economy sectors have a right to organise through trade unions. It will introduce a transparent framework and clear rules allowing union officials to meet, represent, recruit and organise members. It will also introduce a new duty on employers to inform all new employees of their right to join a union, and to require this as part of the written statement of particulars that all new workers receive when starting a new job.  

Meanwhile the Conservatives have committed to continuing with the implementation of their Minimum Service Levels legislation.  


There is, naturally, further detail in the manifestos which we haven't had space to cover here. We hope that you'll join us in our series of Trowers Tuesdays in which we'll discuss the employment proposals set out in the various manifestos and talk about the possible implications of the measures which they set out.  

Rest assured, once we know the outcome of the general election we'll produce another bulletin!