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| 1 minute read

Labour's proposed day one employment rights: will 4 July be independence day for employees or employers?

Bang - the UK General Election starting gun has been fired (earlier than most anticipated) with an election on 4 July 2024. But will this be independence day for employers or employees? If implemented, Labour’s proposal to introduce day one employment rights and lift the cap on unfair dismissal compensation would represent the biggest change to UK employment law since Tony Blair’s new Labour Government in 1997.

The proposal that is grabbing the headlines in the HR community is day one employment law rights for employees, and in particular the impact on probationary periods. Labour’s proposal would be a major change to a long established and settled approach to managing employees in the early stages of employment.

HR practice for over 30 years has been to use probationary periods to allow both sides to settle into a new employment relationship with minimal legal regulation if things don’t work out at an early stage. 

Many employers are scratching their heads trying to work out what this will mean in practice, and those wanting to plan for the future are understandably impatient to know exactly how day one employment law rights will work and what changes, if any, will be needed for legal compliance. Much of the comment in the press so far has been speculation based on snippets of information and leaks. It’s not something employers can rely on to plan for the future. As always, the devil will be in the detail, and we are a long way from seeing anything like that on these proposals. Employers need to wait before making any changes to existing practices.

The party has promised a radical shake-up for workers if they win office - including banning zero hours contracts, employment rights from day one, and ending the practice of "fire and rehire".


uk general election 2024, labour & employment, employment, labour manifesto 2024