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NEWS & INSIGHTS

Political Parties’ Proposed Changes to the Employment Sector

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrat Parties have proposed numerous significant changes to the employment sector that primarily aim to protect workers’ rights such as:

 

The Labour Party

 

  • Banning zero-hour contracts and therefore ending “one-sided flexibility” to enable workers to have the flexibility to move jobs;
  • Ending fire and rehire practices;
  • Day 1 rights such as the right to claim unfair dismissal;
  • Creating a single worker status for employees and workers; and
  • Banning unpaid internships except when they are part of an education or training course.

 

The Liberal Democrats

 

  • Strengthening rights for zero-hour workers;
  • Enhancing bereavement, menopause and parental leave and pay in larger companies;
  • Creating a new ‘dependent contractor’ status in between employed and self-employed; and
  • Removing the statutory sick pay 3-day waiting period;

 

On the other hand, the Conservative Party has proposed very few changes to employment law with their main focus on increasing the number of apprenticeships by 100,000 annually and to decrease employee national insurance by 6%. Additionally, they have followed suit with Labour and the Liberal Democrats by proposing a revision and improvement of the National Living Wage.

 

What is the significance of changes to workers’ rights for the recruitment sector?

 

Considering that the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties have expressed a desire to adjust the minimum wage, this has the potential to affect hiring costs for companies looking to recruit new employees. This is even more prevalent in sectors that rely on entry-level roles for the bulk of their workforce. The increase in hiring costs could see a decline in talent recruitment with companies focusing on maximising the performance of their current staff to minimise expenditure. Therefore, this has the potential to have an adverse effect on recruitment agencies, particularly contingency agencies.

 

Similarly, proposals such as an end to zero-hour contracts and a change to the current worker status from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats could see companies amending the overall structure of their employment agreements, which they will need to seek advice on.

 

How will changes to immigration policies affect the foreign workforce?

 

Currently, the ‘Skilled Worker’ visa is the largest employment immigration route in the UK which requires those moving to the UK to work to have a sponsor and meet specified criteria. However, the Conservative Party have promised to “halve migration” and then reduce that number “every single year”, despite not detailing how this will be achieved. They have also proposed to limit the number of legal migrants per year and restrict the visa process to countries which do not align with their stance on “illegal migration”, which suggests the countries most affected by these changes would be Western European countries as well as Southern Asia and Western Africa. Consequently, sectors that rely heavily on contracted workers from these regions, particularly Southern Asia with the healthcare sector, will be largely affected if the Conservative Party are elected.

 

Similarly, Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, has promised to increase training amongst UK workers to decrease annual net migration. He promised to introduce laws which ban employers that rely on recruiting foreign skilled workers, however the specific legislation to enact this has not been announced.

 

Both promises will determine the ease in which foreign workers join the UK workforce. Therefore, sectors such as technology, healthcare and education will be the most affected and recruitment agencies, would need to adapt to such changes.