Equality measures for the workplace: what do the parties have to say in their UK election manifestos?

25 June 2024 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 3 minute read

Equality measures for the workplace feature in the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green party manifestos (there are no specific workplace equality proposals in the Conservative manifesto). We consider what each party is putting forward. 


The Labour Party manifesto contains a number of proposals for reforms and improvements to equality law, including some applicable to the workplace. It proposes to: 

  • Enact the socio-economic duty in the Equality Act 2010 (this would only be relevant to public sector employers);
  • Strengthen rights to equal pay and protections from maternity and menopause discrimination and specifically, a duty on employers with more than 250 employees to produce menopause action plans “setting out how they will support employees through the menopause, much like gender pay gap action plans”;
  • Strengthen protection for whistle-blowers reporting sexual harassment;  
  • Reintroduce the right not to be harassed at work by third parties;
  • Strengthen protections against dual discrimination (for which there is provision in the Equality Act 2010 that has never been brought into force);
  • Strengthen measures in large firms to address the gender pay gap, including incorporating outsourced workers into the measurement of pay disparities;
  • Enact measures to ensure that outsourcing of services "can no longer be used by employers to avoid paying equal pay";
  • Introduce a Race Equality Act to address equal pay, and "root out other racial inequalities" as well as introduce ethnicity pay gap reporting for large employers;
  • For disabled people, bring in a "full right to equal pay", disability pay gap reporting, improved access to support at work and improved access to reasonable adjustments as well as tackling the Access to Work backlog.

Comment: It is notable that some of these ideas do not appear in the document 'Labour's Plan to Make Work Pay', which contains much of what the Labour Party proposes for the reform of employment and trade union law, including those on outlawing dual discrimination and equal pay for disabled people and ethnic minorities. Whether those ideas will now be dropped remains to be seen. Some commentators have pointed out, for example, that it is already unlawful to pay people less because of race or disability and it is not clear why new laws are needed, rather than more effective enforcement of existing laws. 

If meant literally, the proposal to link outsourcing to equal pay could have a very significant effect on any employer who contracts with public bodies for the provision of services and could lead to a wave of equal pay claims against private companies using public sector pay as the comparison.  

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat manifesto contains a large number of measures aimed at addressing equality issues. Those with specific relevance to the workplace include:

  • Make caring a protected characteristic attracting a right to reasonable adjustments; 
  • Raising employers’ awareness of the Access to Work scheme and simplifying and speeding up the application process;
  • Introducing ‘Adjustment Passports’ to record the adjustments, modifications and equipment a disabled person has received, and ensuring that Access to Work support and equipment stays with the person if they change jobs;
  • Tackling the disability employment gap by implementing a targeted strategy to support disabled people into work, with specialist disability employment support;
  • Requiring large employers to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets;
  • Extending the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encouraging their use in the private sector;
  • Providing additional support and advice to employers on neurodiversity in the workplace, and developing a cross-government strategy to tackle all aspects of discrimination faced by neurodiverse children and adults.

Comment: Some of these measures involve an extension of existing reporting requirements - opinion is divided as to the effectiveness of pay gap reporting in addressing inequality. But some are far more concrete. The idea of making caring responsibilities a protected characteristic, leaving aside the difficulties of defining the kind of caring that would attract protection, is a genuinely innovative idea that could have a significant effect on the ability of carers to remain in employment. 

The idea of an 'Adjustments Passport' for disabled people is a sensible proposal that could avoid sometimes protracted and stressful disputes about reasonable adjustments, when individuals change jobs or move departments in large organisations. 

Green Party

The Green Party manifesto contains more limited (and not particularly specific) equality proposals applicable to the workplace, but includes:

  • Mandatory equal pay audits for large and medium sized employers and measures to address inequalities;
  • Pay gap measures extended to all protected characteristics;
  • A maximum 10:1 pay ratio for all private and public-sector organisations;
  • Equal rights for all workers currently excluded from protections, including ‘gig economy’ workers and those on ‘zero hours’ contracts.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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