General Election – what will the world of employment look like if Conservatives win?

General Election – what will the world of employment look like if Conservatives win?


With only a few weeks left to go until the General Election on 4th July, The Conservative Party has been busy setting-out elements of their proposed changes to the world of employment in an attempt to compete with the socialist or liberalising reforms mooted by the Labour Party.

Labour has suggested they would bring into play multiple workplace reforms within the first 100 days of new office – see our article here listing Labour’s reforms.

Combining the Conservative Party’s recent proposition to continue to reform TUPE regulations, we believe the Conservatives will also introduce / continue with the following employment law reforms in their bid to grow the economy further by adopting smarter regulation. They say they offer a Clear Plan, Bold Action and a Secure Future. How does that extend to the work environment?

What have The Conservatives done for us?
  1. National Insurance

    - Following the Chancellor’s Budget in March 2024, a cut in National Insurance Contributions by 2p, 1.25% in 2023-2024, saving 27.8million workers an average of £330 per annum. However, the Tories had previously pledged a long-term ambition to cut NICs altogether, which would cost the country £46bn if the right economic conditions allowed for it and as a boost to revive the economy.

  2. Fair Pay

- Increased National Living Wage to £10.42 in 2023, which helped more than 2 million low paid workers, and in April 2024 increased this further to £11.44 per hour, up by £1,600 per annum.

  1. Pensions

    - Increased the National State Pension by 10.1% in April 2024, the biggest cash increase in the State Pension ever, now £221.20 a week, for those fully eligible.


What will The Conservatives do next for employers and employees?

Several bills are working their way through Parliament right now, including the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill, Bullying and Respect at Work Bill, Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill and the Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill. If the current Conservatives fail to win the General Election, the next government may still take forward some of these proposals.


We believe the following employment law measures are likely to be introduced:

Employment Tribunal Fees

- A re-introduction of Tribunal Fees, with a cap on the duration of non-compete clauses. The amendments consultation period closed in March 2024 and has not yet been responded to by The Conservatives, but a re-introduction of Tribunal fees is anticipated.

TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006]

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Reforms to ‘Inform and Consult’ under TUPE to continue - micro-businesses with less than 10 employees can choose to inform and consult with individuals directly, provided there are no existing or elected representatives (e.g. trade union rep or an employee’s own rep) and, from 1 July 2024, this extends to employers with fewer than 50 employees.

Improved Regulation

-
European Works Councils to be abolished in the UK.

Paternity

– Continued support for a recent private members’ bill to provide enhanced paternity leave to fathers whose partner dies in childbirth.

Workers’ Rights

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The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 - due to come into force in Autumn 2024 under the Conservatives - gives workers a right to request a more predictable contract. It requires further enhancements before it can be brought into law and it might not go far enough when compared to Labour’s recommendations, so, if The Conservatives win the General Election, it could be scrapped, enhanced or replaced with tougher legislation.

Sex Discrimination & Equality

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The Equality Act 2010 lacks definition in the meaning of the ‘sex’ of a person and there is an argument to amend The Act to embrace new wording, like, “biological sex”. This change in emphasis could win new voters for The Conservatives from minority groups.

Disability

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A positive economic outlook for the UK requires a large and healthy workforce to work and generate taxable income. This feeds the UK economy and makes it stronger. One way to swell the numbers of people in work, and therefore paying tax, is to help disabled people to be employed. Changes to disability benefits could therefore feature in a Conservative employment change wish list.

Self-Employment Status

- The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) is calling on the government to remain competitive and encourage growth in the self-employed sector, a sector which has grown in size substantially since the Covid Pandemic. This could mean more legislation protecting the self-employed.

Sick-Note Reforms

- To move the responsibility for assessing fitness-to-work away from GPs (freeing them up) and transferring it to specialist work and health professionals began with a call for evidence launched in April 2024. The evidence results are due on 8th July, after the General Election, and depending on the findings, this could benefit employers who face high levels of employee sick leave.

 Sejal Patel

Sejal Patel, Senior Associate Solicitor, Employment
Lawson West Solicitors, Leicester

If you are affected by any of these employment issues as an Employee, or as an Employer you are concerned about the wider implications for your business, please Contact Us and speak to one of our employment law experts.

 

 

 

 

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