Scrase Law Employment Solicitors

Labour’s commitments on equality

On 13 June 2024, Labour published its manifesto for the 2024 General Election, ‘Change’.   In our previous posts, we have summarised some of the key proposals and set out Labour’s commitments on workers’ rights and on trade unions. In this post, we look at Labour’s key proposals on equality.

Equality – Labour would:

Tackle the gender pay gap.  Labour states that it will go ‘further and faster’ to close the gap, requiring large employers to develop and publish action plans to close their gender pay gap and including outsourced workers in the gender pay gap reporting.

Introduce mandatory publication of ethnicity and disability pay gaps for employers with more than 250 staff.  Ethnicity pay gap reporting is currently voluntary and the current Government issued guidance to support those employers that wanted to publish their figures.

Require employers with more than 250 employees to produce menopause action plans, setting out how they will support employees through the menopause.  Labour will also publish guidance on measures to consider relating to unform and temperature, flexible working, and recording menopause related leave and absence.

Encourage employers and trade unions to negotiate signing up to the Dying to Work Charter with best practice for employing workers with terminal illness.

Rights at work – Labour would:

Require employers to create and maintain workplaces and working conditions free from harassment, including by third parties.  The Equality Act 2010 previously included provisions under which employers could be liable for harassment of employees carried out by third parties, such as customers or clients.  Those provisions were repealed in 2013 and the current Government dropped proposals to reintroduce liability for third party harassment last summer. 

Strengthen the legal duty for employers to take all reasonable steps to stop sexual harassment before it starts.  There is a statutory duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace that is due to come into force in October 2024.  Proposals that the statutory duty should be to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment were dropped by the current Government last summer.  

Family friendly rights – Labour would:

Make flexible working the default from day one for all workers, except where it is not reasonably feasible.  Currently, there is a right to request flexible working, rather than a right to have flexible working.   The right applies from day one, but that request may be refused for one of eight business reasons.  Labour’s proposal will change the current emphasis making flexible working the default, something that the current Government stopped short of introducing when changes to legislation were made last year.

Review the parental leave system and make parental leave a day one right.

Strengthen protections for pregnant women by making it unlawful to dismiss a woman for six months after her return to work, except in specific circumstances.  There is no detail of what the specific circumstances will be.

Review and examine the benefits of introducing paid carers’ leave.  This is a commitment to review the benefits of paid leave, rather than to introduce it.  Currently, carers’ leave is unpaid.   

Introduce the right to bereavement leave for all workers.  There is currently a right to parental bereavement leave in some circumstances, but this proposal will extend the right to all workers.

Introduce the ‘right to switch off’ so that working from home ‘does not become homes turning into 24/7 offices’.  There is no detail on this proposal, other than that it will give workers and employers the ‘opportunity to have constructive conversations and work together on bespoke workplace policies or contractual terms that benefit both parties’.

27 June 2024

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