+44 (0) 1332 866610 enquiries@precepthr.com

It seems we’ve skipped right from winter to summer, but I’m not complaining! I don’t know about you, but the sun just puts me in such a better mood. I’ve had a quiet(-ish!) one at home this weekend, but I’m not one to just sit around and it drives my husband mad. We’ve (I’ve) sorted the understairs cupboard, my wardrobe and glossed the woodwork in our hallway; as well as the usual kids parties and football taxi duties! So as quiet as it can get with a house to run and three kids.

I also have to tell you about last weekend where I fell in love with a lamb, Groot, see here for proof that I think he fell in love with me too…

So now I want a sheep, to add my want for chickens, a tortoise and puppy; I think we may need to relocate to a small holding! I just need to get my husband on board…

There’s also some very exciting Precept news coming tomorrow, keep your eyes on our main page for more details and your chance to get your hands on a prize!

Anyway, enough of my life and teasing you about what’s coming up tomorrow. Onto what you’re here for, the employment law update, and I’m looking at the Green Paper from Labour on employment rights in the UK. For those who don’t sit and watch BBC Parliament (me included), a Green Paper is basically a document setting out proposals for new rules and regulations and Labour have set out some pretty headline grabbing proposals in their Green Paper entitled “A New Deal for Working People” (LINK: https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/New-Deal-for-Working-People-Green-Paper.pdf). Why am I telling you about this? Labour aren’t in government are they? Well, with a general election that needs to take place by January 2025 and opinion polls very much in favour of a Labour government, we really need to think about what this could mean for employment law because we’re all highly likely going to need to get our head around these changes fairly quickly because Labour have said they will introduce an Employment Bill within 100 days of being elected.

Now, these all come with the caveat that they are only proposals, and already there has been some back tracking on some of the promises (how very out of character for politicians…), but what are the headline takeaways we need to start to consider because they may become a real possibility?

  • Unfair dismissal; a day one right?

Perhaps the one that will send many HR professionals and employers into a tailspin are the plans to extend the rights of unfair dismissal, and making this a day one right. At the moment, employees need two years’ service to be able to claim unfair dismissal, but under the proposals, Labour plans to scrap this and instead have this as a day one right. Now, this is a little misleading, as the actual wording around this proposals says that Labour will make it a day one right “subject to contractual probationary periods”, suggesting that the unfair dismissal right will only kick in after the contractual probationary period has been completed.

So, it might be a good idea to get ahead of the game and ensure that your contracts and probationary period processes are watertight and that your line managers know what they should be doing. As always, we’re here to help if needed.

This has an even bigger potential impact when it’s looked at with the next bullet point as well;

  • A new single definition of “worker” to be created

At the moment, there are three categories for employment status: employees, workers and self-employed persons. Labour is proposing that there should be a single status of “worker” for everyone but the genuinely self-employed created. This would then mean that all workers, regardless of their contract type, would have the same basic rights and protections (including the extended right to claim unfair dismissal from “day one”). That could have major ramifications for employers, extending protections for millions of individuals.

  • An increase in SSP

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but the proposal from Labour here is to increase the amount of statutory sick pay (albeit the recent increase may have satisfied them slightly anyway) and make it available to all workers (within the new definition above) and the self-employed, from day one, effectively removing the 3 day waiting period for it to kick in.

  • A right to switch off

Across Europe, this is already a well-established right. What it means in practice is that workers have a right to completely disconnect from work outside of their contracted working hours. This could be great for your employee’s mental health (and it is Mental Health Awareness week after all… look out for more on this later this week from us). Currently, there’s a lack of detail around whether the policy will have universal application or whether there will be qualifications put in place. It’s also unclear what will happen to employers who breach the right to disconnect. But it is a popular policy so it’s one to keep an eye on.

  • Ending of the “fire and rehire” tactic

The controversial practice of fire and rehire is potentially set to be banned by Labour.  In their initial Green Paper, this was made pretty clear, but there have been rumblings from the unions that Labour may have watered this down slightly and there is now talk that the new Code of Practice, introduced by the Conservatives will simply be redrafted and tightened. Labour are clear though: the practice will be banned.

Whilst this could make it more difficult for employers to make changes to terms and conditions, it still isn’t impossible, if you’re considering changing terms and conditions for your employees, get in touch with us to guide you through the process.

  • A ban on zero hour contracts

Labour also want to introduce the right to anyone who works regular hours for 12 weeks or more to then be entitled to a regular contract, with the onus being on the employer to proactively offer this after 12 weeks. This has attracted some criticism as these contracts are very popular with both employers and workers, for example for students or others who do not want regular work, it can work really well. looking in more detail at the proposal, it does not seem this would be an outright ban – again the headline of the proposal is slightly misleading, it is only a right for anyone working regular hours to be entitled to a regular contract, if they themselves want this. Still, it is another change to get your head around!

  • Extension to the limitation periods for bringing a claim

Currently an employee has three months, less a day, from the date of the incident to bring a claim. Labour plans to extend this (also we don’t know how long employees would be given), and also want to include personal liability for those who were directors of the company at the time. Compensation limit caps are also proposed to be removed.

All of this will obviously have a massive impact on employers if Labour are voted into power, and you need to ensure that you are up to date with any changes that are coming up to make sure you don’t fall foul of breaching any new regulations which are brought in. Well, that’s where we come in, we will be sending out our regular updates and will be prepped and ready to support you and your business with any changes which may come up; big or small.

Make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list which you can do here: Sign up here