General election and what it means for employment law

Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party have published proposed changes in employment law as part of their manifesto. Sarah Buxton sets out some of the proposed changes which will be relevant to dental practice owners. 

Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party have published proposed changes in employment law as part of their manifesto. Sarah Buxton sets out some of the proposed changes which will be relevant to dental practice owners. 



The Labour Party has proposed that the right to not be unfairly dismissed should be a day one right. Currently, employees cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal before they have two years’ continuous service (unless the dismissal is automatically unfair, for example if it is discriminatory).

If this proposed new legislation comes into effect, employers will not be able to dismiss their employees with under two years’ service without following a full and fair procedure. This proposed new legislation is likely to increase the number of employment tribunal claims.

The Conservative Party has introduced a new code of practice on ‘fire and rehire’ which means dismissing a worker and then re-engaging them on new terms. The new code of practice means this would only be allowed as part of a business restructure when there is no alternative. This comes into force on 18 July 2024, however the Labour Party proposes to replace the new code of practice with a stronger one (further details are yet to be confirmed).

Employment status

The Labour Party has made it clear that it does not wish to continue the UK’s current system for labelling employment status (employee, worker, self-employed). The Labour Party proposes that there will be self-employed individuals and workers, which would include those who are currently employees or workers.

It will be interesting to see how this will work in practice because employees and workers currently have different employment rights and are taxed differently. It may therefore be the case that all workers are taxed as employees, increasing employers’ costs due to national insurance contributions.

The Labour Party has also stated that it would give self-employed contractors some rights such as the right to a written contract and the right to organise, allowing them to benefit from trade union rights the same way as employees and workers. Again, further details are to follow and it will be interesting to see how it is proposed that this will work in practice.

Hours and pay

The Labour Party has proposed to replace zero-hour contracts with contracts which stipulate the minimum number of hours the worker would usually work, calculated over a 12 week period. If an employer wishes to change a worker’s minimum hours, they will need to be provided with reasonable notice.

The party has also suggested that maternity and sick pay may be made available to workers. These changes are likely to make it more difficult to decipher the difference between an employee and a worker.

In addition to the change in zero-hours contracts, the Labour Party has pledged to enforce that the Law Pay Commission must consider the cost of living when the national minimum wage is set.

It has stated that it will remove the age bands which are currently in place and put in place an enforcement body to monitor and enforce compliance alongside HMRC.



The Conservative Party has pledged to fund 100,000 more apprenticeships in England each year, meaning apprenticeships will be more accessible to employers and employees.

Pay and National Insurance

The Conservative Party has pledged to reduce employee national insurance to 6% with a view of removing National Insurance completely. There are also plans to remove the main rate of self-employed national insurance.

The Conservative Party proposes to maintain the national living wage at two thirds of median earnings which would mean the National Living Wage would rise to around £13 per hour based on current figures.

Equality and diversity

Under the Equality Act 2010, ‘sex’ is a protected characteristic, meaning it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of this. The Conservative Party has proposed to change the definition of ‘sex’ to clarify that it means a person’s biological sex they have been given at birth. Employers will need to update their equality and diversity policy and provide updated training to their staff.

Sickness absence

Currently, a fit note can be issued by a healthcare professional, which could be a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physiotherapist of occupational therapist. The Conservative Party has pledged to create a new system for issuing fit notes which would take the responsibility from GPs and give this to specialist work and health professionals. The purpose of the new system is to provide support on helping people return to work.

Look out for further updates during the run up to the general election – and once the new government has been determined – to ensure that you are up to date with all upcoming employment law changes!

Sarah Buxton is a director at Buxton Coates Solicitors. Buxton Coates Solicitors is a leading law firm acting for practice owners and managers in all aspects of buying and selling. You can contact Sarah on [email protected] or 0330 0882275.

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