Starmer’s labour pledges give “wiggle room” for UK businesses

Starmer’s labour pledges give “wiggle room” for UK businesses

5th June 2024

International Employment Lawwyer

Day one rights

Labour’s new “Plan to Make Work Pay”, supersedes the party’s “New Deal for Working People”, published under former leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2021. 

Included in the new plan is a pledge to end “one-sided flexibility” between employers and employees. This includes a day-one right to protection from unfair dismissal, as well as access to parental leave, and sick pay, ending the “current arbitrary system” that sees workers wait two years for such rights.

“For employers, monitoring performance during probation will become much more important and we may see an increased use of fixed-term contracts as quasi-trial periods,” adds GQ|Littler’s Ben Smith. “These don’t avoid the unfair dismissal risk but may be useful to set expectations.”

Wiggle room for business

With current polls showing Labour is on track to win by the biggest margin in the party’s history, lawyers believe businesses will need to prepare themselves for significant changes.

Smith speculates that a Labour government may be more balanced on reforming employment rights than previously expected.

“They have been quick to stress that they will consult on their employment law proposals so employers will have the opportunity to make their voice heard and many big-name businesses are publicly supporting Labour,” he says. “Other proposals from Labour, such as a commitment not to re-introduce the bankers’ bonus cap, indicate they are not going to be unfriendly to business.

“Looking beyond employment law, we may see Labour take a more friendly approach to the EU, which may mean more alignment. AI will be a big topic for the next parliament, so it will be interesting to see if Labour take up the TUC draft AI Bill or propose new legislation.