NEWS & RESOURCES

General Election and Employment: Potential Implications

Last week, all political parties published their manifestos setting out their pledges if they were to form the next Government after the general election.

We have analysed all manifestos, but below, we set out what the three main parties are pledging for the general election when it comes to employment.

The Conservative Party

Here are the key pledges:

Tax and wages:

  • Cut 2p off National Insurance
  • Abolish the main rate of self-employed National Insurance by the end of next Parliament
  • Maintain the National Living Wage in each year of the next Parliament at two thirds of the median earnings, where it is expected to increase to around £13 per hour.

Skills investment:

  • Introduce a new National Service that will see young people either volunteer in the community for the equivalent of one weekend a month or to carry out one year of military service.
  • Create 100,000 more apprentices in England.
  • From September 2025, adults will be able to apply for loans to cover new qualifications.
  • Continue to expand adult skills programmes such as Skills Bootcamps.
  • Introduce the Advanced British Standard which is to enhance technical learning as well as academic skills for those between 16–19-year-olds by building on A levels and T levels.
  • Raise the skilled worker threshold.
  • Increase all visa fees.

Employment rights:

  • Extend the 30 hours a week of free childcare to include children from the age of nine months.
  • Define ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010 to mean biological sex.
  • Overhaul the ‘fit note’ system.

The Labour Party

Here are the key points:

  • Introduce basic rights from day one of employment regarding parental leave, statutory sick pay and protection from unfair dismissal.
  • Introduce legislation to end the practice of firing and rehiring employees on worse terms, providing greater job security
  • Prohibit exploitative zero-hour contracts, ensuring all jobs provide a baseline level of security and predictability
  • Ensure the minimum wage is a genuine living wage, reflecting the cost of living, and remove age bands for minimum wage
  • Make flexible work the default from day one for all workers, with exceptions only where not reasonably feasible
  • Update trade union legislation to facilitate good faith negotiations, boosting worker protections and ensuring better terms and conditions

Labour has indicated that legislative changes supporting the above would happen within the first 100 days of taking office after the general election. This rapid legislative action is part of their broader strategy to enhance job security, raise living standards, and boost economic growth.

More broader changes impacting employment include:

  • To increase the UK’s employment rate from 75% to 80%
  • Create a new National Jobs and Careers Service integrating jobcentres and careers support to help more people find better-paid work
  • Guarantee opportunities for training, apprenticeships, or employment for all young people aged 18-21
  • Reform employment support to integrate work, health, and skills support to get more people with health conditions and disabilities into employment
  • Introduce 1,000 new careers advisers in schools, along with guaranteeing quality work experience of two weeks and mental health support in every school
  • Adjust the benefit system to encourage work.

The Liberal Democrats

Skills investment:

  • Replace the apprenticeship levy with a more flexible skills and training levy.
  • Guarantee apprenticeships pay at least the National Minimum Wage.
  • Introduce Lifelong Skills Grants and develop National Colleges for key sectors.

Employment Rights and Gig Economy:

  • Making caring a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010
  • Create a new carer’s minimum wage
  • Establish a ‘dependent contractor’ status with basic rights.
  • Review tax and National Insurance for fair treatment of all workers.
  • Set a 20% higher minimum wage for zero-hour contract workers.
  • Allow zero-hour and agency workers to request fixed-hours contracts after 12 months.
  • Improve pension portability and shift employment status proof to employers in tribunals.
  • Introduce specialist disability employment support.
  • Introduce ‘adjustment passports’ to record the adjustments, modifications and equipment that an employee who has a disability, has received and to allow any equipment issued via Access to Support stays with the employee if they change jobs.
  • Require large employers to publish ethnicity, disability, gender and LGBT+ data on employment levels, pay gaps and progression, along with five-year aspirational diversity targets.

Parental Leave and Sick Pay:

  • Expand parental leave and pay, making them day-one rights.
  • Change the Statutory Sick Pay system to cover low earners and align with the National Minimum Wage, starting from the first day of illness.
  • Support small employers with Statutory Sick Pay costs.

Worker Protection:

  • Establish a Worker Protection Enforcement Authority to unify responsibilities for minimum wage enforcement, modern slavery, and agency worker protection.
  • Conduct an independent review to recommend a genuine living wage across all sectors, starting with public sector employers.
  • Simplify the Access to Work Scheme.
  • Extend the use of name-blind recruitment (currently in place across the Civil Service).  This removes the candidates name and other personal information so that nothing from the recruitment process can put barriers up that prevent the best talent from being recruited.

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