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    Business News

    Work, Work, Work!


    Whilst the General Election is only just over, it is a timely opportunity to look at what changes we can anticipate in the near future from the new Labour government.

    general election 2024

    So what can we expect? Earlier this year the Labour party published their “A New Deal for Working People” and subsequently it produced ‘Plan to Make Work Pay’. Perhaps now is the time to track some of the proposals in preparation for them being put to policy.

    Some of the key proposals worthy of our attention are:

    Employment Status

    Employment status and the classification of workers is a notoriously tricky legal concept that can often give rise to disputes. The law currently recognises three main categories of employment status: employees, workers and self-employed, each of which has its own accompanying rights and entitlements.

    The proposal is to create a single ‘worker’ status for all individuals who are not self-employed. When enacted this would result in all workers being afforded the same rights and protections, including rights to sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave and protection against unfair dismissal..

    However, the discussion has already been clouded by some difficulty over clearly defining what makes a working person. A consultation is planned, so we will need to watch this space.


    Day One Protection Against Unfair Dismissal

    The new government has pledged to offer protection from unfair dismissal as a day-one right by removing the current requirement for a qualifying period (presently two years’ continuous service for ordinary unfair dismissal). Additionally, they promise to remove the current cap on compensation awards made for successful unfair dismissal claims.


    Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement

    The intention here is to make Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) entitlement a day-one right. Under current legislation those eligible are required to be absent from work for more than three days before they are entitled to receive SSP payments. In addition to this, the paper proposes to extend entitlement to SSP to all workers, including those who are self-employed.


    Ban on Zero-hours Contracts

    The New Deal for Working People also proposed to ban zero-hours contracts and contracts that do not have a minimum number of guaranteed hours. The complexity here is striking a balance between security of employment with the flexibility that some zero-hours contracts can offer.


    Ban of Fire and Rehire Practice

    ‘Fire and rehire’ involves employers dismissing and re-engaging workers, routinely offering less favourable terms. This proposal tries to balance the tightrope between the recognition that ‘It is important that businesses can restructure to remain viable and preserve their workforce when there is genuinely no alternative’ and restricting any exploitative employment practices.


    The Right to Switch-off

    The paper includes the intention to introduce a right for workers to “switch-off” and disconnect from their work, including the right not to be contacted by their employers outside of working hours in order to ensure that “working from home does not become homes turning into 24/7 offices”. This is perhaps a recognition of the hybrid nature of the employment market.


    There are many more proposals which aim to increase the employment rights and protections offered to employees and workers. These have both evident benefits to the employees and workers but may have unforeseen or consequent implications to businesses. The promise is that many of the pledges will become policy within 100 days of coming to power but with a number of other areas competing for attention it may well take longer for the changes to come into force.


    As always do get in touch if you would like to discuss anything.