What might be in store next for UK employment law?

Our Director of HR, Sarah Beaumont, reflects here on what could be in store for businesses across the UK with Labour’s proposed updates to Employment Law, with an increased emphasis on the rights of the employee.

Now that the dust is starting to settle and we’re facing the future with a change of UK Government, we look at the significant changes to employment law which The Labour Party laid out during their campaign. These proposals indicate a significant shift towards strengthening workers’ rights and protections, with a focus on equality, flexibility, and fair treatment in the workplace​

So, whilst we don’t have the detail yet, what we do know is that as part of their manifesto, ambitious timelines were promised. Therefore, if implemented, these changes would require significant adjustments from employers to comply with any new regulations.

Here is an outline of the key proposals:

  • Employment Status:
    • A simplification of the current classification system to two categories: ‘workers’ and ‘genuinely self-employed’. This would replace the current three categories (employees, workers, and self-employed) and aim to provide more consistent rights and protections.
  • Employment Rights:
    • All workers would receive the same basic rights, including sick pay, holiday pay, parental leave, and protection against unfair dismissal from the first day of employment, eliminating the current two-year qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal​.
    • The waiting period before statutory sick pay (SSP) becomes payable would be removed, so workers would receive SSP from their first day of absence​​.
    • A new “right to disconnect” would be introduced, allowing workers to disconnect from work communications outside of working hours​.
  • Flexible Working:
    • Flexible working would become the default from day one, and employers would need to accommodate this as far as reasonably feasible. This expands on recent changes that made the right to request flexible working a day one right​​.
  • Family-Friendly Rights:
    • Statutory maternity and paternity leave would be extended, and bereavement leave would be introduced, with plans to review and potentially reform shared parental leave as well as consideration to paid “carers leave”.​
    • It would become unlawful to dismiss a woman during pregnancy or within six months of her return to work, except under specified circumstances​.
  • Zero Hours Contracts:
    • A consultation on zero hours contracts, potentially introducing legislation to protect workers from exploitation under such arrangements. The consultation may include rights to contracts containing more predictable work patterns​.
  • Trade Union Rights:
    • Trade union rights to be enhanced, including sectoral collective bargaining through fair pay agreements, starting with sectors like adult social care. They also aim to repeal anti-trade union legislation, such as the Trade Union Act 2016, and simplify union recognition processes​.
  • Pay Equality:
    • Mandatory reporting of ethnicity pay gaps for companies with over 250 employees would be introduced, alongside extending equal pay rights to Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) workers and disabled workers.
  • Fair Pay:
    • To ensure that the minimum wage is a genuine living wage, reflecting the cost of living. This will be achieved by changing the remit of the Low Pay Commission.
    • The discriminatory age bands in the current minimum wage structure will be removed, ensuring all adult workers benefit equally.
    • Enforcement of the living wage will be strengthened, including penalties for non-compliance​.
  • Fair Pay Agreements:
    • The introduction of fair pay agreements through sectoral collective bargaining. These agreements will set minimum standards across industries, ensuring that minimum rights do not become the maximum.
    • The focus will start with sectors like adult social care, where many workers are on low wages and insecure contracts​.
  • Redundancy Rights:
    • To expand collective consultation requirements by aggregating employee reductions across different sites to determine if the threshold for mandatory collective consultation (20 or more proposed redundancies) is met. Currently, this threshold is assessed separately for each workplace​.
    • The end to the practice of firing employees only to rehire them on less favorable terms. This change aims to protect workers from exploitative redundancy practices​.  Although the outgoing government has already drafted a code of practice on this.
  • TUPE Rights:
    • The current TUPE regulations will be strengthened, although specific details on how this will be achieved are not yet fully outlined. The goal is to enhance protections for employees when their work is transferred to a new employer​.
  • Menopause Rights
    • A range of guidance for employers to be produced on dealing with menopause in the workplace and will require organisations with more than 250 employees to produce Menopause Action Plans.


We will be keeping a close eye on the proposals, amendments to these, and their progress; and will keep our clients informed as these become clearer.

However, we recommend that in the meantime employers review their current working practices, policies and procedures to ensure that they are not only up to date with current legislation, but are also prepared for any new updates that will certainly be coming our way in future.

If your business requires additional HR support now or in the coming months, please get in touch with us to find out how we could support you at team.admin@hunteradams.co.uk