Navigating post-election people planning: key takeaways for business leaders

Don’t panic but be prepared was the takeaway advice from our expert People Director panellists at the People Puzzles drop-in Post election planning webinar on Wednesday 17th July.

Regional Director for the West Region, Stuart Calvert hosted a webinar for business leaders who wanted to understand how Labour’s proposed changes will affect growing businesses. Stuart was joined by panellists from our high-calibre team of People Directors – Kathryn Marshall, Heather Melville, Steve Lynas and Liz Zukowski – who provided crucial insights and strategies for companies aiming to steer their way through these times of change. They reassured business leaders of growing businesses that there is no need to fear the upcoming changes but reframed them as an opportunity to proactively set the foundations to be an employer of choice. You can watch the recording of the webinar below or read on for our key takeaways.

You spoke we listened

There was a phenomenal response to the webinar, and we asked you which specific issues were important to your organisation at the point of registration.  Over 350 respondents enabled us to tailor the content to reflect your concerns. By far the biggest area of interest was around the proposed changes to Day one rights, followed by general changes to employment law, zero-hour contracts and new regulations around minimum wage and the living wage.

Day one rights

Currently employees need two years’ service before being able to access rights such as making a claim for unfair dismissal, redundancy, and flexible working. In a nutshell, Labour’s proposals mean that these rights would become available from day one of employment. For more background on the proposed changes you can read  Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay or read this article by Regional Director Debra Lee.

Our panellists provided reassurance that the day one changes are not a cause of alarm; they focussed on some of the opportunities these changes provide for growing businesses to become good employers. For organisations that implement best practices, the changes should not be onerous. For instance, most tribunal cases are around discrimination, which is already enshrined in law from day one. Providing that employers have robust recruitment processes and operate transparent performance management processes, particularly during probationary periods, dismissal cases should be an exception rather than a common occurrence.

Zero-hour contracts

Our team’s view around the changes to the zero-hours contract was that the devil will be in the detail of the wording.  Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay  specifically refers to exploitative zero-hours contracts, there will not be an outright ban. Now would be a good time to review which members of your team will benefit from being on a zero-hours contract while a detailed consultation process is underway.

Changes to pay-bands and national minimum wage

Similarly, understand the demographics of your business. The panel viewed the removal of age-related pay bands and national minimum wage increases as an opportunity to look at your numbers in detail and consider them from a strategic standpoint. They suggested actions that businesses could carry out right now in preparation for the legislation being passed that may help to mitigate these costs.

If you would like to remain informed about legislative updates, then we recommend that you keep an eye on the CIPD website, which contains all the employment laws in detail.

Action Steps for Business Leaders:

  • Review your business: look at the contracts you have in place, the number of 18- to 20-year-olds you employ, review your processes around recruitment, performance management and check you have the right policies in place.  Ensure that your people plan is aligned with your business goals.
  • Engage with your team: foster open communication with your people to manage changes effectively and maintain morale.
  • Review your recruitment process: this starts with attracting the right people and training managers to make the right recruitment decisions.
  • Understand the numbers: how many people do you have in the 18 to 20 age bracket or on zero-hours contracts? Plan ahead to prepare for cost increases and understand where savings and tax efficiencies could be made. Also consider whether reward and engagement initiatives could mitigate against the true cost of high staff turnover and absenteeism.
  • Invest in training: conduct a skills audit and equip your team with the skills needed to navigate new challenges and leverage opportunities.

Opportunities for business growth

Outside the proposals for enhanced workers’ rights, Labour have pledged a raft of support to rebuild the economy, enable business growth and create opportunities in many industries. With initiatives to help small and mid-sized businesses to access investment more easily, big plans for construction, energy and transport, to name just a few, there should be plenty of opportunities for businesses in multiple sectors. This could in some cases require an agile response to help scale up to meet demand; we are adept at supporting businesses like yours to build the right foundations to grow and to scale rapidly.

An emerging picture

The King delivered his speech setting out Labour’s plans after our webinar and debate will continue around their plans for some time, leading into a consultation period. We expect a clearer picture to emerge over time, but we believe that the changes present a great opportunity for business growth.  Better working conditions and rights can enhance employee satisfaction and retention, increase your brand reputation, improve access to a diverse workforce and lead to increased productivity and profitability. While action may not be required immediately, it would certainly be recommended to place internal focus on your people processes, policies and practices, and make sure your business is fully fit for the future.

Our team of nationwide People Directors are experts at supporting businesses initiate best practices around recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and becoming a workplace of choice. We specialise in helping businesses like yours thrive and grow amidst change. If you would like a complimentary 30-minute chat to one of our Regional Directors, then get in touch by emailing us at [email protected] or give us a ring on 0345 646 5201.


Image of questions for business leaders to think about

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