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Labour Manifesto on Employment Law - Part 1

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Summary: New Deal to be implemented in full and a few odd extras.

Labour have published their election manifesto for the 2024 general election. 

The manifesto includes a stated aim to implement ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People’ in full.

Given the amount of information already out in the public domain on Labour’s employment strategy, there are no great surprises. In his speech launching the manifesto today, Keir Starmer admitted that there was going to be no ‘rabbit out of the hat’ moment. 

The previous promise to introduce legislation within 100 days is repeated. Given the separate pledge to consult with businesses and unions before passing any legislation, this is likely to be draft only.

A few bits which did not appear in the New Deal document (but were in Labour’s 2021 Green Paper) seem to have been put back in the mix: dual discrimination and the introduction of a Race Equality Act. There is also an off-hand reference to menopause discrimination which hasn’t appeared anywhere before to my knowledge. 

Aside from this, the key pledges which get a shout-out in the Manifesto itself (rather than being confined to the separate New Deal document) are as follows:

- Banning exploitative zero hours contracts (the key word here is ‘exploitative’ – it will not be an outright ban)

- Ending fire and rehire (although the wording of the New Deal document here stops short of a clear out-right ban) 

- Introducing a day 1 right to sick pay, parental leave and (most significantly) unfair dismissal (although the New Deal document indicates that probationary periods will have a special status here)

- Setting up a single enforcement body to enforce workers rights. 

- Altering the criteria for determining national minimum wage to include consideration of cost of living and removing age bands, so all adults are entitled to the same minimum wage.

- Creating a ‘Fair Pay Agreement’ to allow for sectoral collective bargaining in the Adult Social Care Sector. 

In my next bulletin, I will examine Labour’s other key employment proposals, in light of the manifesto pledge to implement the New Deal for Working People in full.