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Labour’s Employment Law Conference Commitments

Significant and far reaching changes to employment laws have been announced by the Labour Party at conferences recently, covering such areas as industrial action, employment rights and discrimination.

At the TUC Annual Conference on 12 September 2023 Labour’s Angela Rayner MP said that Labour would introduce an Employment Rights Bill within 100 days of entering office. This was said to be a "cast iron commitment".

In relation to trade unions, it was stated that the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, which allowed for legal minimum service levels in certain sectors to be set, and the Trade Unions Act 2016 would be repealed. New trade union laws would be introduced to make them fit for the current century. It was stated that the new laws would strengthen the role of trade unions in society. Unions would be given a new right of access to workplaces. The recognition process will be simplified. The focus is clearly intended to include the gig economy, and the right of such workers to be unionised. Labour also indicated that they would boost the role of collective bargaining.

Labour also committed to outlawing the use of predictive technology for blacklisting. Tribunal's will be given the power to order the destruction of any such lists.

Angela Rayner also made reference to various other Labour plans including a ban on zero hours contracts, a proper living wage, ending fire and re-hire (a method of forcing employees to agree changes to their employment terms, which many consider to be Draconian), support for family friendly working, strengthening sick pay rights, bringing a faster end to the gender gap, and new measures to tackle sexual harassment.

Further announcements were made by Angela Rayner at the National Annual Women's Conference on 7 October 2023 and at the Labour Party Conference on 8 October 2023.

She reference Labour’s "New Deal for Working People". She restated her commitment to introduce legislation within 100 days of being elected to power. She repeated the commitment to ban zero hours contracts, end “fire and rehire”, and improve sick pay. She made reference to granting "basic rights" from day one of employment. She referred to boosting collective bargaining for trade unions, and expanding the national minimum wage to take account of the cost of living.

It was announced that the Equality Act 2010 (the legislation that consolidated most of our discrimination laws) would be amended to impose upon employers an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment before it starts. It is anticipated that there will be a new statutory code of practice introduced to set out new obligations on employers. This could include having effective and accessible policies and procedures, assessing risks, and providing appropriate training. Emily Thornbury MP, the shadow Attorney General, also commented to the effect that those women reporting sexual harassment at work should have protections as robust as those for whistleblowers.

Anneliese Dodds MP confirmed that Labour would honour the UN Convention for the Rights of Disabled People, would introduce mandatory disability pay gap reporting for big businesses, and would facilitate workers securing reasonable adjustments from their employers. A new Race Equality Act would seek to tackle structural racism, including low pay for ethnic minorities. More action would be taken to tackle the gender pay gap, following Baroness O'Grady's review. She also confirmed that Labour would create, for the first time, the position of Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

Transcripts of the speeches can be found on the Labour Party’s website.

We will endeavour to notify you of any announcements affecting these commitments.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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