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The Prime Minister has pulled the trigger on a General Election, and this will take place on 4 July 2024.  Labour has placed employment law changes high on their agenda with their flagship ‘Plan to Make Work Pay – Delivering a New Deal for Working People’, promising to “deliver the biggest upgrade to rights at work in a generation”.

The Chamber’s HR Forum partner, leading regional law firm Harrison Drury, outline the key points of Labour’s ‘Plan to Make Work Pay’.
(https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/a-new-deal-for-working-people/)

Key proposed changes which would have an impact on employers’ day-to-day HR practices and legal compliance include:

Day one rights for all workers, including protection from unfair dismissal (albeit employers will be able to operate probationary periods), the right to work flexibly (save for where not reasonably feasible), the right to take parental leave and the right to be paid statutory sick pay.

Delivering a genuine living wage by removing age banding and taking into account the cost of living, together with focussing on enforcement and penalties for non-compliance, particularly in sectors where there is travel time between multiple working sites.

Creating a single worker status, with a 2-tier framework for employment status that differentiates workers and the genuinely self-employed, and a single enforcement body in respect of workers’ rights.

Banning zero-hour contracts and instead introducing a right to have a contract that reflects the number of hours regularly worked, based on a 12-week reference period, with reasonable notice of any change in shifts and compensation being payable proportionate to the notice given for any curtailed or cancelled shifts.

Increasing the time limit in which employees can make an Employment Tribunal claim from 3 months to 6 months.

Mandatory publication of ethnicity and disability pay gaps for employers with more than 250 employees, and a requirement to publish and implement action plans to tackle gender pay gaps.

Ending “fire and rehire” by reforming the law and strengthening the statutory code of practice introduced earlier this year.

Strengthening the legal duty (due to take effect from October 2024) on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the course of employment.

Labour has indicated its intention to introduce employment rights legislation to Parliament within their first 100 days in office, with the proposed legislation then being subject to a proper parliamentary process, which would include consultation with business leaders and trade unions – so in the event of a Labour victory, we won’t actually see these changes within 100 days. The reality is that we are looking a time frame of many months, if not 1 or 2 years, before any changes would come into force.

That said, what can you do now to ensure that your organisation is well placed, no matter who is elected?

  1. In light of the incoming duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace from October 2024, audit your current anti-harassment and equality and diversity policies and reporting mechanisms, implement any changes required and train your workforce.
  2. Review your current contractual probationary clauses and ensure you have a clear probationary period with the contractual right to extend it, and consider introducing a right to appeal any extension and dismissal.
  3. Ensure your performance management and disciplinary policies enable you to effectively deal with unsuitable recruits.
  4. Explore your recruitment practices to see if there are opportunities for improvement.
  5. Check whether you have insurance protection against the legal costs of defending Employment Tribunal claims and the cost of any compensatory awards/settlements – if not, consider whether it would be prudent to put protection in place.
  6. Consider how you would approach any changes to T&Cs or policies, and what the associated costs / time needed to implement changes would be.
  7. If you are planning any changes which might be affected by reform to fire and re-hire practices, consider whether they can be accelerated.
  8. If you have more than 250 employees, start thinking about your ethnicity and disability pay gaps and gather preliminary data. Take the opportunity to audit your reward mechanisms and consider whether any changes to remuneration structures are needed.

If there’s a change in Government following the General Election, there will be changes to employment law – and even if there isn’t, changes are coming. In partnership with Harrison Drury, we’ve organised a ‘Preparing for Change: Navigating A New HR Landscape’ workshop.

Join us from 10am – 12noon on Wednesday 10th July, as we dissect the impact of the General Election result on the HR landscape and explore ways to ensure that your business is prepared and protected.

The workshop will be led by the Chamber’s trusted partners, regional law firm, Harrison Drury – their employment law experts will highlight key issues that you need to be aware of and provide proactive guidance to help you to ensure that any impact to your business is minimised.

To book, email: chamberevents@lancschamber.co.uk with the subject line ‘Preparing for Change Workshop’.  The workshop is free to charge to Chamber members, and invited guests.

 

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