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Following the announcement that the General Election is going to take place on 4 July, it's a good time for a reminder of what Labour plans to do if it wins.

"A New Deal for Working People"

This New Deal green paper was originally published in October 2022, and subsequently republished on Labour's website on 1 January 2024. The paper sets out Labour's proposed reforms to employment law.

Meanwhile at the TUC annual conference in September 2023, Angela Rayner MP, the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary committed to Labour publishing an Employment Rights Bill within 100 days if it is elected to office. According to reports, the Bill is already in draft form.

Trade unions

Broadly speaking Labour intend to promote trade union membership and repeal recent law on striking, to make it easier to strike.  

Trade unions will be given a new right to access workplaces, allowing them to meet, represent, recruit and organise members, and the statutory recognition process will be simplified so that gig economy and remote workers can meaningfully organise through trade unions. Labour has also said that it will introduce a new duty on employers to inform all new employees of their right to join a union and to remind all staff of this on a regular basis. It will also consider how the notice requirements for industrial action should be simplified to reflect the dynamic nature of disputes.

Labour has said that it will repeal the controversial Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. It will also repeal the Trade Unions 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.

Employment status

Labour originally committed to creating a single "worker" status within its first term. Under the proposal, all individuals with worker status (i.e. all those apart from the genuinely self-employed), would be given the same rights and protections, including sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal. It appears that there are now revised proposals to consult further over the creation of a single worker status if Labour gets into government.

Previously Labour had declared that it would ban zero hours contracts, but it's now reported that there will be no outright ban. Instead, employers will be allowed to continue to use zero hours contracts provided that they are not "abused". In other words, although some people like zero-hours contracts, those who don't must be offered a contract equivalent to the average hours worked per week over a 12-week period. There is a rumour that workers will be able to opt into zero hours contracts.


A Labour government would boost collective bargaining to improve workers' pay, terms and conditions. It would do this via the rollout of sectorial collective bargaining across the economy. These will establish minimum terms and conditions including those relating to pay, pensions, working time, holidays, training, diversity and inclusion and health and safety. This is a radical change to the way in which the UK pays its workers and is akin to what many European countries do. The first sectorial terms and conditions will be for adult social care. Social care providers seem to be supportive, as long as there is money to pay for the new terms.

Labour has committed to raising the living wage to ensure that it is adequate.  It has also said that it will expand the remit of the Low Pay Commission, which reviews and makes recommendations on the national minimum wage (NMW), to ensure that the NMW takes into account increases in the cost of living and inflation.

It has also declared travel time in sectors with multiple sites would be paid and action would be taken on sleepover hours in sectors such as social care.

Day One rights 

Labour have said that it will give all workers rights from day one of their employment.

Employees will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from day one. There is mention of an exemption for probationary period. Understandable concerns have been raised about the impact of new claims on the employment tribunal service, which is finding it difficult to manage existing levels of claims.

Workers will also be entitled to benefit from sick pay, holiday pay and parental leave. 

The right to flexible working will be a day one right. This is an interesting extension of the law, undoubtedly popular as most workers want more flexible working. It will be interesting to see how employers can manage this. 

Statutory sick pay and sickness

Labour has promised that the level of statutory sick pay (SSP) will be increased and made available to all workers, including the self-employed and those earning less than the Lower Earnings Limit who are currently excluded from SSP.

It has also indicated that it will review the provision for stress and mental health, including in relation to the impact of new technology and emerging health and lifestyle issues such as long Covid.  In its own words it will "put mental health on a par with physical health in our workplaces".  It will be interesting to see what this means.

Discrimination and diversity, equity and inclusion

Labour plans to create the position of Secretary of State for Women and Equalities. It has also committed to amending the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010) to introduce a duty on employers to implement measures to "stop sexual harassment before it starts", together with a new statutory code of practice setting out the obligations on employers. While the duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is already expected to come into force this October, Labour's proposals on harassment would also cover harassment by third parties.

Labour has also declared that it will make efforts to end the gender pay gap faster, and revise gender pay gap reporting to ensure that outsourced workers are included, as well as introducing a requirement on employers to devise and implement plans to eradicate pay gap inequalities. It will also introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting and make it mandatory for employers with more than 250 staff.  

Labour has also announced that it will introduce a mandatory disability pay gap reporting requirement for larger businesses and facilitate workers securing reasonable adjustments from their employers. 

Other policies that have been announced, separately from the New Deal green paper, are a requirement on employers with over 250 employees to publish and implement a "menopause action plan" that sets out how they are supporting employees experiencing menopause symptoms. Another thing potentially on the cards is a new Race Equality Act which would tackle structural racism, including the issue of low pay for ethnic minorities, with fines for organisations not taking appropriate action on their pay data. It has also been reported that the new Act would enact provisions against dual discrimination, where someone is discriminated against because of a combination of protected characteristics.

Time will tell…

The Labour Party certainly can't be accused of lacking ambition when it comes to the employment arena. These provisions and others including a "right to switch off"; a commitment to end the practice of fire and re-hire, and a declaration that it will end the presumption in favour of public sector outsourcing and oversee the "biggest wave of insourcing of public services for a generation" promise to keep both employers and employment lawyers busy for some time to come!

Now that we have an election date look out for our series of Trowers Tuesdays on election manifestos in which we'll discuss the plans of the main parties and their potential impact.