The HR implications of the election for working parents

What could the election mean for family-friendly policies? Kate Palmer from HR experts Peninsula outlines what’s in the manifestos of the main parties.

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The three traditional main political parties have made promises with significant implications for employment law. But specifically, how do their pledges impact working parents?

The party manifestos have unveiled a number of big family-friendly promises.

So to make sure you’re aware of what could be on the cards for parents in your workplace, whatever the election outcome, here’s what you need to know.

The Conservatives want to “give working parents more flexibility” and provide access to wraparound childcare”

In their manifesto, the Conservatives say they want to “give working parents more flexibility” and has pledged £300m for before and after school clubs by September 2026.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt first announced plans to expand funded childcare in the 2023 Spring Budget, which is currently being rolled out in phases.

The plan is to give parents 30 hours of free childcare a week by September 2025. That’s for any eligible parent with a child aged between nine months to when they start school.

The HR implications of making childcare more accessible could give rise to more parents returning to work or a potential drop in flexible working arrangements [editor’s note: although childcare providers have expressed strong concerns about their ability to meet demand for free childcare].

Labour plans to strengthen family rights and protections

The Labour Party has said they want to remove the qualifying period for an employee to become eligible for parental leave. This would make parental leave a day one right for all staff.

They also want to make it unlawful to dismiss a pregnant employee for six months after their return from maternity leave – unless in very specific circumstances.

As well as family leave changes, they’ve vowed to open up flexible working rights even further so that it becomes a default from day one unless it’s not reasonably feasible. For HR, new flexible working rights could lead to more parents adopting flexible working arrangements and balancing work around their childcare commitments.

Changing flexible working rules would also require employers to update their existing flexible working processes and policies in line with new rules. Labour is also promising free breakfast clubs for all primary schools in England.

The Liberal Democrats pledge to enhance family leave and give everyone the right to flexible working

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to enhance family leave and pay.

They want to make paid family leave available to self-employed workers for the first time. And like Labour, they want to make it a requirement for employers to have published parental leave policies.

On top of this, they plan to increase the length of paternity leave (currently a maximum of two consecutive weeks), boost paternity pay and make it a legal requirement for employers to publish policies around parental leave.

They also want to provide paid neonatal paid neonatal and carer’s leave. Plus, they want to add “caring” to the list of protected characteristics in the Equality Act. So it would become a requirement for employers to make adjustments for staff who have caring responsibilities.

They also want to give everyone the right to flexible working and give workers with disabilities the right to work from home. That’s unless there are significant business reasons as to why it wouldn’t be possible.

Again, if more parents have the ability to have flexible working arrangements, we may see a rise in the number of parents returning to work. And if employers have staff with caring responsibilities, they would need to take the right steps to support them and update their company documents in line with legal changes.

What would be your next steps?

Regardless of the election outcome, there will be major employment law changes. So it’s important to prepare:

  • New policies and contracts to cover new employment rights.
  • Existing policies and contracts to make sure they stay legal and up to date.
  • New procedures and update old ones.
  • To offer training to staff who need to manage new procedures.

*Kate Palmer is HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula which provides HR and health & safety support for small businesses. If you have any questions or concerns about what could change for your business ahead of election day, don’t hesitate to seek advice from an HR expert.


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