News & Insights

Labour’s Employment Rights Bill

Labour have set out their “cast iron commitment” to introduce a new Employment Rights Bill, if they are elected.

You may have already seen our earlier article explaining Labour’s plans to introduce a “right to switch off” for workers. In addition to this proposal, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has confirmed that, if elected, Labour will introduce an Employment Rights Bill within the first 100 days of entering office, promising that this is a “cast iron commitment” ahead of a general election in 2024 or 2025.

While speaking at the TUC (Trade Union Congress) annual conference on the 12 September 2023, Rayner set out some areas which will be covered by Labour’s Employment Rights Bill:

Trade Unions

Labour proposes to repeal both the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 and the Trade Unions Act 2016. Rayner argued that the introduction of this legislation by the Conservatives has prevented fair bargaining and has held back living standards, and that repealing this legislation would mean that unions are better placed to negotiate for their members.

Labour proposes to make trade union laws “fit for the 21st century” and to strengthen the role of trade unions in society. Personnel Today reported that Labour proposes to do this by giving trade unions a new “reasonable” right to access workplaces, as they can in Australia, New Zealand and Nordic states. In addition, Rayner has suggested that there will be clear responsibilities and rules for all sides to follow, allowing members to meet with, represent, recruit and organise workers without threat or menace from rogue employers.

Labour have also set out their proposals to simplify trade union recognition to ensure that gig economy and remote workers can meaningfully organise through trade unions. This would include modernising the trade union regulations to allow unions to utilise electronic balloting when engaging their members.


Blacklisting is the creation of a list of individuals who are not welcome in an organisation. For example, an employer may choose to exclude potential candidates for a job on the grounds of trade union membership.

Labour has promised updated regulations to outlaw the use of predictive technology for blacklisting and additional safeguards against singling out workers for mistreatment or dismissal without any evidence of union interaction.

Third parties will also be made liable for blacklisting they carry out on behalf of employers. Labour proposes to give the employment tribunals the power to order the destruction of any blacklists, whether held digitally or in paper form.

Zero-Hour Contracts

When speaking at the conference, Rayner also referred to Labour’s plans to ban zero-hours contracts and to bring in a “proper living wage that people can actually live on”.

Other Matters

The shadow deputy prime minister also touched on other employment related policies, including proposals on:

  1. Ending fire and rehire.
  2. Fair pay agreements in social care.
  3. Additional measures to support family-friendly working.
  4. Strengthening sick pay to make it available to all workers from day one.
  5. Ending the gender pay gap and unequal pay sooner.
  6. Tackling sexual harassment at work.
  7. Putting mental health on par with physical health.

Rayner’s proposals were welcomed by Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, who stated that the country “clearly would be better off with a Labour government”. In contrast, Greg Hands, the Conservative party chair criticised Labour’s proposals and stated that “reversing anti-strike laws will mean more strikes, damaging the economy and disrupting the lives of hardworking people”.

Labour’s proposals may be a cause for concern for some employers. The proposal to ban zero-hour contracts may require employers to fundamentally alter their employment and business models, especially in the hospitality sector and gig economy.  Furthermore, if the proposals do “strengthen the role of trade unions in our society”, as is Labour’s stated intention, then many more employers may need to get used to higher levels of trade union membership and collective bargaining. The news of the Bill has been welcomed by many workers and trade unions, with the TUC’s general secretary calling it “the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights in a generation”.

The Conservatives are yet to announce any formal plans for future employment related matters, but we will keep you updated.

Article contributor, Victoria Ounsworth, Solicitor