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Key election pledges: What HR needs to know

The UK general election is due to take place on Thursday 4 July 2024

Ahead of this Thursday's general election (4 July), we're looking at the key policy pledges that would impact HR. Today, we focus on employment rights, immigration and tax.

Employment rights

The Scottish National Party (SNP)'s employment rights promises include:

  • Devolve employment rights
  • Scrap “exploitative zero-hours contracts”, ban fire-and-rehire practices and close the gender pay gap
  • Create a single status of “worker” for everyone except the “genuinely self employed”
  • Increase the minimum wage to at least the level of the national living wage, and increase it in line with inflation
  • End age discrimination in pay levels
  • Eradicate the sick pay threshold and the four-day waiting period
  • Increase paid maternity leave to one year while setting maternity pay at 100% of average weekly earnings for the first 12 weeks and 90% for 40 weeks, or £150
  • Encourage the UK government to increase shared parental leave
  • Protect the right to strike, repealing the Strikes (Minimum Services Levels) Act and the Trade Union Act 2016.

SNP Candidate for Glasgow South West, Chris Stephens, told HR magazine: "Only the SNP is putting the interests of Scottish businesses and workers first, making the case for Scotland’s independence, re-joining the EU and policies that make life better for Scots.

“Years of attacks on workers’ rights have shown that Westminster is not working for workers, and so it’s vital they have strong SNP voices at Westminster."


Reform UK's pledges are to:

  • Scrap EU regulations with immediate effect
  • Replace the 2010 “Equalities Act” (The Equality Act) that “requires discrimination in the name of ‘positive action’”
  • Scrap DEI rules that “have lowered standards and reduced economic productivity”.


The Labour Party promised to:

  • Ban zero-hours contracts and end fire-and-rehire tactics
  • Introduce parental leave and protection from unfair dismissal as a day-one right
  • Ensure that employees qualify for statutory sick pay from the first day of absence, rather than the fourth
  • Strengthen "the collective voice of workers", including through trade unions, and create a single enforcement body to ensure that employment rights are upheld
  • Raise the minimum wage and remove age bands
  • Introduce mandatory disability and ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers.


The Green Party pledged to:

  • Repeal anti-union legislation and introduce a Charter of Workers’ Rights
  • Introduce a maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private- and public-sector organisations
  • Deliver equal rights for all workers currently excluded from protections, including gig-economy workers and people on zero-hours contracts
  • Introduce a minimum wage of £15 an hour for all workers, offset for small businesses by increasing the employment allowance to £10,000
  • Extend employment rights to day one of employment, enforce workers' rights and abolish tribunal fees
  • Push for pay gap protections to be extended, to protected characteristics including ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

A Green Party spokesperson told HR magazine: "The Green Party believes that workers’ and trade union rights need to be restored after decades of decline under successive governments. Too many people are being exploited and underpaid, with too little protection from the law. We believe that trade unions are a vital partner in building a fairer, greener economy."


The Liberal Democrats promised to:

  • Establish a new ‘dependent contractor’ employment status in between employment and self-employment, with entitlements to basic rights
  • Raise minimum wage for people on zero-hours contracts, with a right to request a fixed-hours contract after 12 months for zero-hours and agency workers
  • Shift the burden of proof in employment tribunals regarding employment status from individual to employer
  • Make statutory sick pay available to workers earning less than £123 a week and align the rate with minimum wage.
  • Make payments available from the first day of missing work rather than the fourth
  • Support small employers with statutory sick pay costs.

Speaking to HR magazine, a Liberal Democrats spokesperson said: “Liberal Democrats recognise that happy and healthy employees are vital for a productive workforce. That’s why we will modernise employee rights and set up a new Worker Protection Enforcement Authority to crack down on bad practices.

“We need a real plan to build an economy that is genuinely innovative, prosperous and fair. That means helping more people into work, helping people learn the skills they need, and making it easier for people to juggle work with caring responsibilities.”


SNP's immigration pledges are to: 

  • Reverse the decision to stop care workers from overseas bringing their families with them to work in the UK
  • Review immigration legislation to expand the shortage occupation lists.


Reform UK promised to:

  • Freeze immigration, with the only exception being for essential skills, especially in healthcare
  • Raise the national insurance rate to 20% for foreign workers to incentivise businesses to employ UK citizens (essential workers and small businesses with five employees or fewer would be exempt)


Labour pledged to:

  • Reform the points-based immigration system to make it "fair and properly managed"
  • End long-term reliance on overseas workers by bringing in workforce and training plans for sectors such as health and social care, and construction
  • Crack down on employers or recruitment agencies abusing the visa system, and breaching employment law

Read more: SNP manifesto: What HR needs to know



The SNP's tax pledges are to:

  • Devolve tax powers, including devolution of national insurance and income tax
  • Crack down on tax avoidance and encourage international companies to be transparent in their tax payments.


Reform UK promised to:

  • Raise the threshold for paying income tax to £20,000, to save the lowest-paid workers £1,500 per year and “get people off benefits”
  • Lift the minimum profit threshold for corporation tax to £100,000 and reduce the corporation tax rate from 25% to 20%, then 15% from year three
  • Cut the entrepreneurs’ tax to 5%
  • Abolish IR35 rules to support sole traders and support SMEs by abolishing business rates for high street-based SMEs. This would be offset by the Online Delivery Tax at 4% for large multinational enterprises.


The Conservative Party pledged to:

  • Reduce employees’ national insurance contributions by 2p, a total tax cut of £1,350 for the average worker on £35,000
  • Abolish the main rate of self-employed national insurance