Employment Law And The 2024 General Election: The Conservative Party’s Plans

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Employment Law And The 2024 General Election: The Conservative Party’s Plans

Author: Sam Evans

Key Contact: Claire Knowles

On 22nd May 2024, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced there would be a snap general election held on 4 July 2024, taking many political commentators and politicians by surprise.  

While the party has not focused on employment issues in its manifesto, this article explores the potential employment law impacts of the Conservative campaign and its possible success.

Deregulation and decreasing costs to business – “smarter regulation”

Prior to calling the election, and as part of its ‘smarter regulation’ agenda, the government commenced a consultation with a view to abolishing the domestic law framework of European Works Councils and to codify that the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE”) only applies to employees, and not workers. This followed earlier moves to remove the elected representative TUPE consultation requirements for ‘micro businesses’ with less than 50 employees and fewer than 10 transferring employees, allowing employers to consult directly with employees.

Welfare – return to work and sickness absence

The Prime Minister has recently criticised Britain’s ‘sicknote culture’ and has pledged to reform the fit note process (for more information about this topic, please click here). Under the Prime Minister’s proposals, ‘specialist work and health professionals’ would be responsible for issuing fit notes based on a more ‘objective assessment of someone’s ability to work’. Sickness absence policies and procedures may be necessary following the outcome of this consultation.

Gender identity – gender critical beliefs

Discrimination claims relating to ‘gender critical’ beliefs have become increasingly prevalent before Employment Tribunals over the last year. Gender-critical policies are a firm part of the Conservative party’s manifesto and so may lead to discussions in the workplace or on social media. Gender-critical beliefs can be protected philosophical beliefs under the Equality Act 2010, so it is important not to discriminate against employees for expressing these beliefs. However, gender reassignment is also a protected characteristic, so it is equally important that employees are respectful if the topic arises.  

Given the emotive nature of this topic and the increasing willingness of staff members to share their views on social media, employers may wish to review existing social media policies and implement strategies to manage employee communications and professionalism. To best protect your business against the risks of harassment, please contact Acuity about our anti-harassment training.

Minimum Service Levels

The Conservatives affirm their intention to progress the implementation of minimum service level agreements, following their 2019 manifesto and 2022 Growth Plan. Although the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 received royal assent in July 2023, secondary legislation is still required to implement minimum service levels in specified sectors. The intended purpose of minimum service levels is to avoid striking workers jeopardising public safety or preventing people from getting to work, accessing healthcare, or safely going about their daily lives by ensuring a minimum level of continued health, fire, rescue, education, transport, radioactive waste management, and/or border security services. Employees with union recognition agreements and/or who provide or rely on the above services should watch this space for updates.

National Insurance

The Conservatives also wish to cut employee national insurance to 6% from 2027 and abolish national insurance for self-employed people by the end of the next parliament.

Following the election, we will be publishing a comprehensive summary of all the employment law changes which are likely to occur in the next parliament through the Subscriber Insights section of Acuity’s My Digital Lawyer. For more information, sign up here:

For advice on how potential employment law changes could impact your business, contact the Employment team at Acuity Law.

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