Legislate, legislate, legislate!

Claire Vane
July 10, 2024

The new Cabinet is already at work, and they are clearly very busy. As I listen to political commentators’ interviews with those who have moved into a new post in the cabinet in the past, I hear them saying that they return to their desks to find their diaries packed with critical meetings.

We know that Keir Starmer has important landmark meetings coming up quickly and we know that he knows how to get things done. ‘Getting down to work’ was in his first words in the cabinet when he met with his colleagues to plan.

We have been watching the various legal bulletins emerging left, right and centre from different providers about the application of employment law and how clients will be affected.

To be robust and to be ready to change contracts of employment templates and handbooks and to ensure that everything is documented clearly for use on a day-to-day basis will be vital, but there is no point in panicking.

You need solutions, not more and more to read. We are in touch with all the source material as it arises, and we will be ready to do your drafting for you and make sure that you are up to speed with the changes to the statute books. Until then, it’s business as usual. We will take the pain out of the changes for you.

The Labour Party manifesto included a promise of an upgrade to rights at work and that new legislation was promised by December 2024. Any new legislation will not have come in by then, but the statutory processes will have started. The King’s speech on the 17th of July will doubtless list a new Employment Rights Bill containing the main (but unlikely all) intentions on employment law. There will then be a period of consultation involving both Houses and then there is a long period of defining the operational details, which is critically important to make sure that any changes are workable.

It is interesting to note that the national minimum wage, which was introduced to Parliament in late 1997, took about two years to come into effect, so there is no point in panicking as we have time to make sure that we tread sure-footedly with the new legislation as it arises.

Nonetheless, if your handbooks are badly out of date and your contract templates are deficient in the law that is currently applicable, then it is still worthwhile amending the documents so that they are current until new legislation arises.

The key priorities that may be looked at over the next two years are:

• A right not to be unfairly dismissed from day one without the current two-year qualifying period.

• Further restrictions on the practice of ‘fire and re-hire’.

• The provision of bereavement leave in the Human Rights Bill.

• Legislation around zero-hours contracts and the right to contract based on average hours.

But possible earlier activities could include:

• The age-related band in the national living wage and its possible abolition.

• The Tips Act, which requires employers to pass 100% of tips to workers.

• Statutory Sick Pay reforms i.e. removing the four calendar waiting days to receive SSP.

• Trade Union law appeals relating to certain anti-strike laws.

• Day one parental / paternity leave. This has been promised but the detail is still unclear.

• The last immediate priority will be the Predictable Terms Act where workers have the right to request (but not necessarily receive) a more predictable contract.

It is unclear yet what the Labour Party will achieve but employment legislation is high on the list.

If you would like to take the headaches away from these processes, please get in touch and we will produce a bespoke product for you that fits not only the current position, but speaks a language that is familiar to your culture, and will make it easier to deal with legislative changes as they arise.

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