Labour has won - what happens now?

ALEX LAMONT • 08 Jul 2024

The following is not party political, but a simplified breakdown of the new government’s pledges regarding the workplace.

The 4th of July has passed, votes have been cast and Labour now has a UK government majority. But what does that mean for the world of work? The Labour manifesto laid out a plan to “transform the workplace, improve employment conditions, and ensure fair wages for all” and while promises have been broken by politicians in the past (let's never forget!) the time has come to look ahead.

Fair wages for all

Labour’s manifesto places a strong emphasis on ensuring fair wages that reflect the cost of living. One of their key pledges is to make the minimum wage a genuine living wage. This will involve changing the remit of the independent Low Pay Commission to account for the cost of living when setting the minimum wage. Moreover, Labour plans to remove age bands, ensuring that all adults receive the same minimum wage regardless of their age.

A significant focus will be on the care sector - an area we specialise in. Labour has committed to increasing the minimum wage for care workers in England to at least £12 per hour. This measure aims to improve recruitment and retention in the sector, easing the burden on the NHS and ensuring better care for the elderly and vulnerable.

It’s worth noting that the current minimum wage is £11.44. So this would be an increase of 56p per hour. Labour’s hope is that this will attract more people to the care sector.

There are a couple of things to note here.

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The first is that we don’t know what the proposed minimum wage increase will be outside of social care. But it’s almost certainly going to be less than £12 an hour, seeing as they’re making such a big deal about that being the new standard for just one sector!

The second is that – even though there will now be a national increase to the minimum wage (whatever that is!) – you should still include the wage/salary in your job adverts! Our Talent Intelligence team has learned that over 80% of candidates won’t apply for a job if there’s no mention of salary.

Workplace rights

One of the cornerstones of Labour’s manifesto was the "New Deal for Working People." This initiative promises to strengthen workplace rights significantly. Under this plan, workers will enjoy several protections and benefits from their first day of employment. These include:

Parental leave and sick pay: Basic rights to parental leave and sick pay will be available from the first day of employment, providing immediate security for new employees.

Protection from unfair dismissal: New employees will also be protected from unfair dismissal from day one, ensuring they cannot be dismissed without a fair reason and due process.

A ban on zero-hours contracts: While workers can choose to stay on such contracts voluntarily, zero-hours contracts without worker consent will be outlawed. This will be a significant change for certain sectors (like hospitality or the care sector.) In fact, according to the University of East London, the majority of care workers are on zero-hours contracts.

So what does this mean? It’s worth acknowledging that some workers will prefer zero-hours contracts, so in your job advert, be sure to mention if this is something you offer. But be sure to use voluntary terms like that so it doesn’t scare away potential hires who aren’t looking for a zero-hours contract.

Additionally, the controversial practice of "fire and rehire" where employees are dismissed and rehired on less favourable terms, will be prohibited.

To ensure these rights are upheld, Labour plans to establish a Single Enforcement Body. This body will be tasked with overseeing and enforcing employment rights, providing a streamlined approach to worker protection.

domenico-loia-hGV2TfOh0ns-unsplashPromoting equality in the workplace

Labour’s plan includes measures to promote equality and tackle discrimination in the workplace. The party intends to enforce equal pay for disabled people and ethnic minorities, addressing significant pay gaps that exist. Building on the success of gender pay gap reporting, Labour will introduce mandatory disability and ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers.

Labour also plans to introduce a landmark Race Equality Act. This new legislation will enshrine in law the full right to equal pay for Black, Asian and other ethnic minority workers, strengthen protections against dual discrimination, and root out racial inequalities.

Women’s equality is another priority. Labour pledges to strengthen rights to equal pay and protections from maternity and menopause discrimination. The aim is to build on the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and ensure that women are treated fairly in all aspects of their employment.

If unconscious bias is something you’re concerned about, it’s worth noting that our applicant tracking system includes anonymous shortlisting to cut that out of the recruitment process.

Support for disabled workers

Labour recognises the challenges faced by disabled workers and is committed to providing better support. The current work capability assessment system will be reformed or replaced to ensure it effectively supports disabled people in finding and maintaining employment. Importantly, disabled individuals will not face immediate benefit reassessment if their new job does not work out, providing them with much-needed security.

Gig economy and employment status

Labour plans to address the complexities of the gig economy by simplifying the employment status system. The current three-tier system will be replaced with a simpler two-tier classification, where individuals will be classified as either “worker” or “self-employed”. This change aims to extend full employment rights to gig economy workers, providing them the same protections and benefits as traditional employees.

If you’re an organisation that labels your employees as “self-employed” it might be time to go back to your contracts.

For more details, you can read Labour's full manifesto here.

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