Written by Reality HR & GK Strategy | 27th June 2024

As the UK braces for a potential shift in political leadership, businesses across the nation are preparing for the changes that a new government might bring.

To help navigate these uncertain times, we have partnered with GK Strategy a leading political advisory firm, to share their insights on the upcoming general election.

Their expertise offers a comprehensive look at what businesses can expect and how they can proactively manage risks associated with political change.

The UK will have a new government in less than a week.

The changing of the guard at the Palace of Westminster often heralds significant change, and 2024 looks like no exception. With Labour solidifying a substantial lead in the polls, and the Conservative Party seemingly lurching from one campaign disaster to another, it looks almost certain that Kier Starmer will be the UK’s next Prime Minister.

There will be a number of burning platform issues facing Starmer and his team when and if they’re successful in seizing the reins of government. Whoever walks through the famous No.10 door on 5th July will still be facing historically high NHS waiting lists, a chaotic and overburdened immigration system, anaemic productivity and economic growth, deep skills shortages and local authority financial pressures that have seen local council services struggling. .

Beyond these headline issues, Labour also has an ambitious list of areas it wants to make headway on, and quickly. Top of this list will be workers’ rights.

The Party has already committed to introducing an Employment Bill within its first 100 days in power. ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering A New Deal for Working People’ sets out its ambitions in some detail: banning ‘exploitative’ zero-hour contracts (a softening of a former pledge to ban zero-hour contracts outright); ending fire and rehire practices; changing the Low Pay Commission’s remit to allow it to take into account the cost of living when advising on minimum wage levels; creating a better enforcement regime to identify and penalise businesses non-compliant with minimum wage levels; ensure workers can benefit from flexible working, including opportunities for flexi-time contracts; consult in detail on a simpler framework that differentiates between workers and the genuinely self-employed; and remove restrictions of trade union activity. It also commits a Labour government to ensuring businesses provide basic individual rights from day one for all workers, “ending the current arbitrary system that leaves workers waiting up to two years to access basic rights of protection against unfair dismissal, parental leave and sick pay.” ‘Securonomics’ is the watchword here – ensuring people have security in their day-to-day lives, and rebalancing away from what Labour sees as the current one-sided flexibility in favour of employers.

As a party with its roots in the trade union movement, it is unsurprising it is setting out a broad and ambitious agenda in relation to workers’ rights and fair pay. Overlaying this political legacy is also a social and economic imperative which is driving the Labour team. Starmer and Co. are finely attuned to the continued struggles presented by the cost of living to ordinary working families, many of whom have become disillusioned by the Conservative government’s approach to economic management over the last 14 years.

The Party sees modernising the world of work, and getting people in to secure, well paid and productive employment as fundamental to getting the economic recovery on track. Supporting businesses to grow, creating a new generation of resilient and innovative companies, and training and protecting a workforce fit for the economy of the future is the bedrock to its plans.

An undeniably ambitious and progressive agenda, and one that has already seen its fair share of challenge.

A key challenge has come from businesses concerned that the protections Labour have set out in its Plan to Make Work Pay are not compatible with business growth. Limitations on drawing on a flexible workforce through the banning of zero-hours contracts in particular was highlighted by the CBI and others as creating a serious barrier to business investment. The subsequent softening of the language to specify that only ‘exploitative’ zero hours contracts would be banned demonstrates that the Party is in listening mode, and keen to avoid any unintended consequences of its new raft of policies.

In order to navigate political change in the coming months, or to ensure your business is on the front foot to engage with the new government as it moves from the broad-brush strokes of its manifesto towards a programme for government, robust monitoring will be key. Making sure you’re staying on top of announcements – of which there will be many in this space – will allow businesses to pivot where required and protect themselves from unintended consequences where necessary.

New ministerial teams will largely have no experience of running departments, nor will the raft of new advisers that sweep into Westminster on 5th July. They will be looking to businesses as constructive partners and critical friends to help them develop workable policy solutions that deliver on their two (potentially competing) objectives – delivering swift economic growth and being resolutely pro-worker.

In conclusion, the impending political change presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. Staying informed and adaptable will be crucial as new policies are introduced. From an HR perspective, it’s essential to consider the impact of these changes on your workforce and to ensure that your company remains compliant with new regulations.

By fostering a resilient and flexible organisational culture, businesses can not only mitigate risks but also thrive in a changing political landscape. Our partnership with GK Strategy aims to provide you with the best strategies and insights to navigate these times effectively.

Join us on Tuesday, 23rd July, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM for an exclusive live Q&A event in partnership with GK Strategy. We will provide immediate reactions and expert analysis of the election results, discuss key policy changes and their implementation timeline, and offer practical HR advice for the short term.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and prepare your business for the changes ahead. Secure your spot today by registering here.