The Queen’s Speech is read out in the House of Lords every year on the State Opening of Parliament. The purpose of the speech is to set out the calendar of legislation that the government intends to put forward in the parliamentary session.
If we cast our minds back to the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 the Employment Bill was announced. This Bill proposed widespread changes aimed at improving the rights of employees in the UK.
This included proposals such as: making the ability to make a flexible working request a day one right, extending the protections from redundancy for pregnant employees, a new right for parents to be able to take up to 12 weeks of neonatal leave if their baby was receiving neonatal care, changing the way tips are distributed, a proactive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, and an unpaid carer leave amongst other things.
This inevitably has led to much discussion, the main issue being the lack of clarity from the government as to when these proposals would be put into law.
Many of the proposals had broad cross-party support and there was pressure from the Trades Union Congress and Recruitment & Employment Confederation who sent a joint letter requesting the Bill’s inclusion in this years Queen’s Speech.
Despite this, the Employment Bill was completely omitted from the Speech. Therefore, the future of the Bill is now uncertain. There is still potential it may be implemented next year or alternatively the government has no intention of ever putting the Bill into law.
Separate to the Employment Bill, it was announced by the government via press release a few days ago that there would be an extension on the ban on “exclusivity clauses”. This would prevent employers from mandating that employees cannot have another job if they earn under £123 per week. It was stated that this would be put before Parliament later in the year. This was omitted from the Queen’s Speech as well.
In conclusion, for the vast majority of employers there would appear to be no major legislative changes to prepare for this year.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.