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The New Prime Minister Means Business!

The New Prime Minister Means Business!
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Managing Director

It's been quite a start to September, with the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II just two days after inviting the new Prime Minister to form a government in her name.

Liz Truss has promised to make wide-ranging changes within her first thirty days in office, although there may be some delays to her original planned timescale with the Queen's passing. But what are these changes, and what will they mean for the workforce and businesses?

And so, after endless weeks of debating and uncertainty, and, some might say, an absence of visible leadership, we finally have a new Prime Minister. 

As with all new leaders, they arrive with a desire to place a swift and impactful stamp to mark their new tenure. Liz Truss has announced a range of measures which will impact employment law – and she is setting out her stall to achieve them within the first 30 days of her tenure. Of course, there may be some delay to this in light of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Introducing a new law on minimum staffing levels during strikes – the threshold will be set individually for each industry, including for transport, education, healthcare, postal workers, and energy
  • Removing the right to paid leave when carrying out trade union activities
  • Removing standalone diversity and inclusion roles in NHS
  • Reversing the National Insurance rise that was put in place to fund the NHS, therefore removing the requirement on employers/payroll teams to list this separately on payslips
  • Reducing holiday leave for Civil Service staff from 27 days to 25 days


Let’s take these one at a time:

1) The new PM will introduce a new law requiring a certain level of staffing of services to be maintained during strike action. The threshold will be set on an industry basis, including transport, education, healthcare, postal workers, and energy. The law seeks to limit the impact of strikes on the public who rely on those services.

This move reduces the power of the unions. It follows months of inconvenience following the most extensive industrial action since 1989, when the RMT took their members out on strike, causing widespread chaos across public transport and crippling many businesses whose workers rely on public transport for travelling to work. Auxiliary services around rail stations, particularly Retail and Hospitality, already struggling to recover from the effects of lockdowns, were also severely impacted. Two of the strike dates fell on A-level examination days, impacting students and the institutions to which they belonged who were required to pick up the tab of taxis and accommodation for some students. It is not only the Rail Unions who have been on strike this year: the Education sector and Postal workers have also conducted industrial action, and workers in healthcare, waste and recycling, and many more are considering or have conducted strikes this year.  

This minimum level law follows the July 2022 law that enabled businesses impacted by strike action to use agency workers to fill the workforce gaps. One must assume there will be some financially punitive consequences for institutions if minimum levels are not met when they have the right to use agency workers.

This ruling has implications for recruitment agencies with a duty of care to their workers, particularly if they are required to cross picket lines and put themselves in potentially volatile and dangerous situations.

2) Truss is moving towards removing the right of public sector workers to use paid leave to carry out trade union activities, including organising strikes. Interestingly, there is also talk of allowing qualified individuals other than trade union representatives to attend hearings within the Education sector which could further erode the scope and grip of teaching unions. The move to make union activities non-remunerable should save the economy £137M a year. Financial considerations aside, Liz Truss is sending a message to the Unions.

3) The push for ensuring equal opportunities has ramped up over the last few years and has seen the introduction of Diversity and Inclusion officers and managers across the NHS. The new PM has pledged to eliminate these roles. The Health Secretary, Sajid Jarvis, has gone on record saying he felt there were already too many standalone roles for this department and that “it should be the responsibility of everyone to encourage fairness and equality of opportunity”. In a time when people are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS should be focusing funds on “patients’ priorities” instead. Management roles in Diversity & Inclusion roles pay up to £76,000 per year, and it is estimated this move should translate into significant savings for the ailing health service: to the tune of around £12M a year.

The obvious consideration for HR here is to ensure Department heads are now assimilating this responsibility into their own roles and implementing it accordingly. The lack of a dedicated officer could open the door to claims where workers feel discriminated against in instances where Department heads may not have displayed sensitivity and understanding of these areas.   

4) The rise in National Insurance (NIC) contributions, introduced in April 2022, was widely criticised from the outset, with claims the lowest paid workers would be the most affected by the hike.

The 1.25% rise was to be levied against all workers eligible to pay NI and was to fund a £12 billion package to support the NHS in clearing backlogs and patient waiting times and then to be fed into social care. However, Liz Truss has now promised to overturn this measure. Her spokesman has claimed the NHS would benefit more from the other measures they are introducing to “cut bureaucracy in the NHS, ensuring staff are focused on their patients, not paperwork.” 

The 1.25% was required to be listed separately on payslips as “Health and Social Care Contribution”, however now, employers will need to adjust their payroll and payslips to reflect the reversal of this rise.

5) Civil Service staff, which covers military, law enforcement, education, healthcare, and government workers, will have their annual leave entitlement cut from 27 days annually to 25. This move brings public servants’ holiday entitlement into line with private sectors and is expected to save £2 billion annually. Whilst this is likely to be a popular decision amongst the voters, incumbent staff are faced with a cut in annual leave, rising inflation, and the increased cost of living. In a time when the PM is attempting to curtail the power of the unions and limit strike action, such a move could likely trigger just what she's attempting to deter.  

Without question, drawing boundaries and implementing changes that indicate how her time as Prime Minister will play out makes good sense: a firm hand on the tiller encourages confidence that our captain can steer us through the storm. The Queen is dead, long live the King. 


ASL Recruitment was established in 1999 and has been serving Hastings and the surrounding area ever since, placing temporary and permanent roles across various sectors, including Industrial and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Marketing, Technology and Office Support, from junior up to board level. Our co-founder and Managing Director, Jason Perry, is an HR specialist and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.