Concept for - Employment law in the General Election Manifestos – What changes are ahead?

With the general election just around the corner and polls indicating that a change in government is becoming ever more likely, you may wonder what impact this may have on your workforce and business.

Here is a summary of the manifesto pledges of the main parties on employment law.


Labour have promised significant and immediate reforms to employment law, largely centring around the rights of employees. Their manifesto on employment law has outlined that they will look to ‘hit the ground running’ and begin making changes within 100 days of entering government. Some of the more significant proposals include:

  • Banning ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts, with an aim to end ‘one sided’ flexibility – and providing a baseline level of security for employees. This is not an outright ban.
  • The end of ‘fire and rehire’, although the wording of the New Deal document stops short of an out-right ban.
  • Changing the criteria for deciding the national minimum wage so this takes into account the cost of living and removing age bands for all adults to receive the same minimum wage.
  • Granting the ability to claim certain employment rights – unfair dismissal from day one of employment (along with sick pay and parental leave).
  • An extension to the three month limitation periods for claims in the employment tribunal to six months.
  • Collective consultation requirements for redundancy to be triggered if redundancies reach a certain threshold across the business as a whole, rather than looking at the numbers at each site/workplace.
  • A right for employees to have a contract which represents the hours they usually work, based on a 12 week reference period.
  • Make flexible working arrangements the default position, although it isn’t currently clear how they will look to implement this.
  • Employers with over 250 employees to introduce a menopause action plan.
  • Introducing a stricter sexual harassment regime to include protection against harassment by customers/third parties.
  • A requirement for the section one statement for new staff to inform new starters of their right to join a trade union.
  • Various supportive measures for trade unions, including a reversal of changes by the Trade Union Act 2016, which made it more difficult for industrial action to be taken.
  • Increased right to unpaid bereavement leave, which at the moment is restricted to the circumstance of a child’s death.

It’s worth noting that, despite Labour’s promise for rapid reform, it is likely that these changes will take months, or even years, to pass into law and be regulated.


The Conservative party manifesto has, by comparison, very little by way of significant employment reforms, but rather aiming to continue their ongoing work. Some examples of their pledges include:

  • Changing the way ‘fit notes’ work, moving responsibility away from GPs in favour of other, more employment specialised, healthcare professionals.
  • Implementing a minimum service level agreement with regards to strike action.
  • Reducing employees’ national insurance contributions to 6% from 2027.
  • Abolishing self-employed national insurance altogether by the end of the next parliament.

Liberal Democrats

Here are some of the Liberal Democrats election manifesto proposals:

  • Establish a new ‘dependent contractor’ status with certain minimum entitlements to basic rights, including sick pay, holiday, and minimum earnings, which sounds very much like the current ‘worker’ status.
  • The Liberal Democrats have suggested an increase (by 20%) of the minimum wage for people on zero-hour contracts at times of normal demand – with the intention of compensating them fairly where their hours may fluctuate to address the issue of uncertainty.
  • They have also proposed changing the burden of proof requirement in employment tribunals for employment status, so rather than an employee proving it, the employer must disprove this.
  • A right for employees to request shares for listed companies with more than 250 employees.
  • Statutory sick pay to apply from day one and removing the lower earnings threshold.
  • Extend use of anonymous recruitment procedures.
  • Increasing statutory maternity pay (SMP) and statutory paternity pay (SPP) to £350 per week.
  • Introduce a ‘use it or lose it’ month of leave for partners and fathers paid at 90% of salary.
  • Large employers to publish information on five year diversity targets and data on disability, ethnicity, gender, pay gaps and progression and LGBT+ employment.

If you wish to discuss anything covered in this article, please contact our Employment team who will be happy to help.