Manifesto watch: The Conservative Party's employment law proposals


The Conservative party have formally launched their election manifesto.   Unlike the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos, it's rather light on proposals for employment law reform, but there are a few interesting nuggets: 

  • They propose to amend the Equality Act 2010 to specify that “sex” refers to “biological sex”.   Although the stated aim of this is to clarify the position in relation to single sex services and sport, it will also affect the employment law aspects of the Act (e.g. in relation to genuine occupational requirements);
  • They are proposing to legislate to specify that an individual can only have one sex for legal purposes;
  • They have reiterated plans for an overhaul of fit notes, including removing this responsibility from GPs and instead using specialist “work and health” professionals; 
  • The proposals for National Service have been retained; 
  • They propose to create 100,000 more apprenticeships; and
  • Perhaps most eye-catchingly, they are proposing to cut employee National Insurance and remove it entirely for the self-employed. 

The manifesto doesn't include various changes already in train which will go ahead if they win, such as:

  • amending TUPE to clarify that it doesn't apply to workers and that employees can only transfer to one employer;
  • neonatal leave to come into force in 2025;
  • the duty to prevent sexual harassment - due to come into force in October 2024;
  • the right to request predictable working hours - expected to come into force in September 2024. 

The party has made a clear effort to distance itself from Labour's proposals, which it calls a “package of French-style union rules”.   With the battle lines clearly drawn, voters have 2 weeks to decide. 

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