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Employment Law and the new Labour Government; what should employers prepare for?

With Labour coming into power last week for the first time in 14 years, it is to be expected that there will be significant changes on the horizon, with a series of reforms impacting employment law.  These changes aim to provide a fairer and more equitable work environment for employees while also ensuring businesses stay compliant with new regulations. Sarah Dureau, Partner in our Employment Law team, here reviews a variety of the top changes expected over the coming months and explains how employers can prepare now.

Strengthening workers’ rights

One of the primary focuses of the Labour Government is to enhance workers' rights and make terms and conditions more “family friendly”. New measures are expected to include:

  • Basic Day One rights: There are several areas this will apply, for example an entitlement to parental leave and sick pay, as well as protection against unfair dismissal (currently a right only after two years’ continuous employment), but with provision built in for probationary periods.
  • Flexible working: Most employers have had to embrace this style of working over recent years due to Covid-19, however the Labour government plans to expand this so that flexible working is the default option for all workers from day one of employment. For businesses, this means reviewing and possibly adjusting current policies and operations to accommodate these changes seamlessly and avoid any possible Employment Tribunal claims.
  • Zero-hour contracts: The Labour Government plans to restrict the use of zero-hour contracts, aiming to provide more stable and predictable employment terms. It is not an outright ban, but employers will need to implement these changes carefully to avoid infringement and potential penalties.
  • Trade Unions and collective bargaining: Strengthening trade union rights and promoting collective bargaining is also on the agenda for the Labour government. This may result in an increase in union activities and demands for higher wages and better working conditions, which businesses will need to address through proactive engagement and negotiations.
  • Right to switch off: The "right to switch off" is another anticipated change, allowing employees to disconnect from work-related communications outside of their regular working hours without facing any negative repercussions.  Businesses will need to implement clear policies to respect this right, ensuring employees have a healthier work-life balance.

Access to Employment Tribunal

Tribunal fees themselves were abolished in 2017 in order to improve access for employees to bring a claim against a previous or potential employer. Labour aims to further streamline the Tribunal process to make it more efficient for employees to bring claims and increasing the three month time limit in most cases to six months.  This could result in increased Tribunal cases, making it crucial for businesses to ensure their HR practices and employee relations are robust and compliant with existing and new regulations.

Support for mental health

Mental health in the workplace has been a key talking point for many years, with calls for support to expand even further.  Labour plans to introduce mandatory mental health first aid training for managers; training that we have implemented as a firm.  We can assist other businesses in preparing for and implementing these changes to ensure compliance and promote a supportive working environment.

Employment status

The Labour Government also intend to re-define employment status to make it simpler to understand the protections that apply in different situations, by which they aim to provide clarity for individuals and business. We can assist in ensuring that individuals and businesses understand this complex area that makes a difference to the protections that apply, the claims that can be brought by different categories of individual, and what the changes to that will be.

Preparing for the changes

The new Government has pledged to introduce legislation within their first 100 days. This is likely to be draft legislation as they have also promised to consult with businesses and unions before passing any legislation so, while we can’t confirm the exact legislation likely to be implement, these changes are going to be coming soon. Understanding and implementing these legislative changes can seem daunting, but we are here to assist.

Our team of expert Employment Law Solicitors can provide you with clear, practical advice tailored to your specific needs, ensuring your business remains compliant while continuing to foster a healthy and productive work environment.  To discuss your employment practices and procedures to protect your business for the future, contact us today by using our Contact Form, emailing or calling your local office from the numbers below:



This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.