The upcoming UK general election on 4th July 2024 has significant implications for the HR and payroll industry, as the major political parties have proposed substantial changes to employment laws and regulations. Here’s an overview of how the election outcome could shape the landscape for HR professionals and payroll administrators:

Labour Party’s Proposed Reforms

If elected, the Labour Party has pledged a comprehensive overhaul of workers’ rights and employment laws under their “New Deal for Working People” agenda. Some key proposals include:

  • Banning “exploitative” zero-hour contracts and introducing a right to an average-hours contract based on hours worked over a 12-week period. This could impact workforce planning and scheduling for businesses relying on flexible staffing models.
  • Requiring employers to provide reasonable notice of work schedules and compensate workers for cancelled shifts at short notice. This would necessitate careful shift planning and rostering by HR teams.
  • Strengthening the right to request flexible working from day one, making it the default unless not reasonably feasible. HR policies and practices would need to adapt to accommodate more flexible arrangements.
  • Treating sexual harassment as a whistleblowing issue, imposing a higher duty on employers to prevent it, and restricting the use of non-disclosure agreements. This could lead to increased harassment claims and require robust training and policies.
  • Simplifying the process for trade unions to gain statutory recognition and lowering the threshold for recognition. HR would need to prepare for potential unionization efforts across various sectors.
  • Increasing the National Minimum Wage to at least £10 per hour. Payroll teams would have to ensure compliance with the new wage rates.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat Proposals

While the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have not released detailed employment law proposals, some potential changes could include:

  • Reforms to address the gender pay gap and promote workplace diversity and inclusion. HR would need to review hiring, promotion, and pay practices accordingly.
  • Measures to support flexible working and work-life balance, such as enhanced parental leave and remote working options. This would require updates to HR policies and systems.
  • Changes to pension regulations and retirement age. Payroll and HR would need to adapt to any modifications in pension contributions and retirement planning.

Impact on HR and Payroll Professionals

Regardless of the election outcome, HR and payroll teams should brace for significant changes in employment laws and regulations. Some potential impacts include:

  • Increased workload for HR teams to review and update policies, contracts, and employee handbooks to comply with new laws.
  • Greater demand for HR expertise in areas like flexible working, harassment prevention, and union relations.
  • Need for robust training programs to educate managers and employees on new employment regulations.
  • Potential rise in employment tribunal claims, requiring HR teams to strengthen disciplinary and dismissal processes.
  • Increased administrative burden on payroll teams to ensure accurate calculation and payment of wages, sick pay, and other entitlements under revised laws.
  • Necessity for HR and payroll software updates to accommodate changes in employment contracts, scheduling, and compensation structures.

According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the UK’s tight labour supply could result in lost wages and profits of up to £39 billion annually if employment regulations are not properly addressed. Therefore, HR and payroll professionals must stay informed and proactively prepare for the potential changes arising from the general election. By closely monitoring the election campaigns and proposed policies, HR and payroll teams can develop strategies to navigate the evolving employment landscape effectively, ensuring compliance and minimising disruptions to business operations.

Written by HRTech247.