Labour Government

The UK is now under a Labour government which has pledged to bring as many changes to employment law over the next 100 days.

The following is a summary of the main changes which are expected.

  • More ‘day one’ rights

Currently employees must usually reach two years’ service before they have the right not to be unfairly dismissed (although there are many exceptions to this rule). Labour intends to remove the qualifying period of service, meaning that all employees will have this right.

Although employers may be tempted to instigate some quick dismissals before this law is passed, we advise that you proceed with caution when doing so and always contact your employment law adviser for guidance.

It is expected that employers will tighten up their recruitment processes; it will become more important to employ suitable people from the start, as it becomes more difficult to dismiss new employees who are underperforming in their role.

Using fixed term contracts would not get around this issue, as the failure to renew fixed term contract can also be an unfair dismissal.

  • Probationary periods

At the moment, there are not many rules surrounding probationary periods. There is no standard length, although making a probationary period longer than two years in duration would be fairly meaningless as that is currently the time when an employee acquires the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

Some employers offer enhanced terms conditions on passing the probationary period such as gym membership, health insurance, more annual leave, different notice periods or a pay rise.

For others, the terms and conditions are exactly the same before and after the probationary period and so the sole purpose of the probationary period is managing employees’ expectations.

Labour may introduce a cap on the length of the probationary period and require its terms and conditions to be set out more clearly and explicitly.

  • The right to disconnect from work

The new government will emphasise the importance of work-life balance and switching off from work during non-working time. Employers may face increased obligations to make sure that employees are not under pressure to answer work emails or calls during their time off. They may need to provide extra training to ensure that managers enforce this.

Flexible working requests are likely to become more difficult to turn down.

  • Zero-hours contracts

Although zero-hours contracts are not likely to be banned completely, they will probably be subject to more rules which favour the rights of the employee.

  • ‘Fire and rehire’

When employees do not agree to changes in their terms and conditions, some employers dismiss them with notice and re-employ them on new terms and conditions the following day, so that their continuity of employment is preserved. Although this approach has risks and is generally used as a last resort, it can be lawful when done properly. Under the Labour government, this may no longer be possible, or may be subject to very strict conditions.

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

It looks likely that the waiting days and low earnings threshold for statutory sick pay will be abolished. The rate of SSP may also go up.

We will keep you updated. If you have any questions, please contact us for advice by emailing or by phoning 01392 247436.

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