The Queen’s Speech at the opening of Parliament set out details of new employment law legislation that the Government intends to carry over and introduce in the next Parliamentary session.
What’s in store for employment law?
- Employment Bill
The Government is proposing a new Employment Bill. Its stated purpose includes promoting fairness in the workplace; strengthening workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment; and offering greater protections for workers by prioritising fairness in the workplace and introducing better support for working families.
The main elements of the Bill include:
- Creating a new, single enforcement body, offering greater protections for workers.
- Introducing a new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract. There was a hint to this in last year’s ‘Good Work Plan’.
- Extending redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The Government previously announced its intention to extend the period of redundancy protection from the point an employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy until six months after the end of their maternity leave.
- Allowing parents to take extended leave for neonatal care.
- Introducing a week’s leave for unpaid carers.
- Ensuring that tips left for workers go to them in full.
- Subject to consultation, making flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.
- National Living Wage
Plans will be brought forward to increase the National Living Wage. According to the background briefing notes, this will reach around a projected £10.50 per hour in 2024. However, it is conditional upon what state the economy is in.
The Government also plans to extend the National Living Wage – which currently only applies to people over the age of 25, to those aged 21 and over within 5 years.
- National disability strategy
The Government will publish a ‘National Strategy for Disabled People’ in 2020. It will bring forward detailed proposals in light of feedback to its “health is everyone’s business” consultation. These will include measures to encourage employers to play their role in retaining disabled people and people with health conditions in the workplace.
The Government has stated its intention to reduce the disability employment gap and to reach the existing goal of an increase of one million disabled people in work between 2017 and 2027.
- Rail strikes: reducing disruption
Legislation will be brought forward to reduce the disruption caused by rail strikes, ensuring that the public is not disproportionately affected by strike action, while preserving rail workers’ right to strike.
Minimum Service Agreements (MSAs) will set out the minimum service pattern to be provided during rail strikes, and the minimum number and nature of staff who shall work to provide that service. A strike against a rail employer will be unlawful if there is no MSA in place or if the MSA is breached.
Despite comments by Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer, during the election campaign that he would like to review IR35, there is no mention of IR35 in the Queen’s Speech.
Further detail is set out in the background briefing notes.