international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: Impact of the UK General Election on Upcoming Legislation

Authors: Ruth Bonino, Corinna Harris, Chris Holme, and Sophie Jackson

Very soon after the election was announced, Parliament was dissolved. In the short period before dissolution, it had to be decided which bills would be passed and which would be dropped.  In this Parliamentary “wash-up” period prior to dissolution:

  • the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 received Royal Assent,
  • the House of Lords approved the draft statutory code of practice on the fair allocation of tips and
  • the Code of Practice (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Order 2024 was made.

Any ongoing consultations which had not closed may continue as usual but no publicity for the consultation can be issued during the election and the consultation period may be extended beyond the original timeframe.  There is therefore a chance that in the event of a new Labour government the TUPE consultation announced last month may be delayed.

It will be for the next government to decide which unimplemented employment laws will be taken forward.  Labour set out its plan for change in its paper “Labour’s plans to make work pay”, published on 24 May.  Given its more radical plan to give workers the right to “have a contract that reflects the number of hours they regularly work”, it seems possible that the current proposal to introduce a right to request a predictable working pattern (due to come into effect in September this year) is at risk of being shelved.   Other changes, such as the new duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment and plans to introduce neonatal leave and pay are already in place and coming into force – we cannot see any incoming government doing anything to affect these changes.

The government announced last year that it planned to introduce legislation to limit non-compete restrictive covenants to three months. However, these reforms have not progressed since then and we will have to wait and see what the incoming government does. Non-compete reforms are not included in the Labour Party’s employment law reform proposals. It may be that this is something that is a long way down the priority list and we won’t see any change actually coming through for some time – maybe if at all.

Fire and re-hire: We are expecting the Statutory Code on dismissal and re-engagement to come into effect on 18 July 2024.  Accompanying the Code were regulations which would allow an uplift or reduction in compensation if the Code is not followed.   These regulations will not come into effect on 18 July as expected because there was insufficient time before the election for them to be approved by Parliament.  This means that for the time being, a failure to follow the Code will not lead to an uplift to the protective award, although it could lead to an uplift of compensation award in other claims such as unfair dismissal.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel

Employers should continue to prepare for upcoming changes in employment law but look out for announcements after the new government is installed after 5 July 2024.