Labour has promised an Employment Act within the first 100 days of this Government and it has told us lots about what is likely to be in it. Here’s six things you need to be ready for very quickly.

1. Unfair dismissal to be a day one right

    Ordinary unfair dismissal rights currently don’t kick in until someone has been employed for two years. Labour have promised that they’ll legislate for them to apply to new hires too.

    The rules are likely to be slightly different for new hires than the current rules for established employees. Labour have said that employers will be able to operate “fair and transparent” probationary processes to assess new hires.

    This means employers need to take a long hard look at their probationary procedures to make sure they are fair and transparent. Once you have the procedure, it’s also important to make sure that it’s being implemented properly by line managers: it will no longer be good enough to let things slip, as commonly happens now.

    2. Implementing a right to switch off

    A right to switch off is the right to turn off work devices and not be contacted outside working hours. Labour have been less than clear about how they will implement this, saying they will follow the “Irish” or “Belgian” model. Those countries have rights to switch off with much weaker legal consequences than, say, France – but given the uncertainty, everyone will need to keep a careful eye on how this legislation shapes up.

    3. Flexible working to be the default

    Labour have said the law will be amended so that flexible working will be the default from day one for all workers “except where it is not reasonably practicable”. That’s a much narrower exception than the current law (which gives employers 8 different reasons to choose from) and could mean employers are forced to permit hybrid working even where it isn’t ideal.

    4. Menopause Action Plans

    Labour has said that large employers (with more than 250 employees) will need to produce Menopause Action Plans, setting out how they will support employees through the menopause. You’ll need to consider measures such as flexible working, how you record menopause-related leave and absence, and guidelines relating to uniform and temperature. Few employers have currently formalised their support for menopausal employees in such a document.

    5. Six-month limit on Employment Tribunal claims

    Currently, most Employment Tribunal claims need to be brought within three months of the date of the act complained of. The extension to six months  could go one of two ways. It makes it more likely that claims are in time, so might mean more claims are made.   It might also mean more claims are settled – as employees won’t have to rush to the Tribunal to make sure their rights are preserved.

    6. Implementation of bereavement leave for all types of bereavement

    Labour is planning to introduce the right to bereavement leave for all workers. Currently, bereaved parents have a right to two weeks of leave. We can expect that right to be extended to all workers bereaved of other family members too.

    These are only some of Labour’s proposals. The full proposals can be read in detail here.

    Please contact B P Collins’ employment team for further advice on how you can prepare your business under a Labour government at enquiries@bpcollins.co.uk or call 01753 889995.


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