On the 10th May 2022, the Queen’s speech was delivered at the State Opening of Parliament which set out the UK Governments’ legislative agenda for the coming year. Back in 2019, the Queen’s speech saw the announcement of the Employment Bill which seeks to give more rights to workers – so what is the Employment Bill and are we going to see any changes in employment law over the next twelve months?
The Employment Bill
The Employment Bill is anticipated to bring about greater protection for workers and in particular is anticipated to introduce new or enhanced rights including:
- Enhanced redundancy protection during pregnancy and maternity;
- Flexible working by default;
- Increased contract predictability;
- Carer’s leave
- Neonatal pay and leave; and
- Allowances for workers to retain gratuities.
It is also anticipated that a new enforcement body will be introduced to ensure the protection of workers’ rights.
It was hoped by many that the long-awaited Employment Bill would see some movement through 2022 but it failed to make an appearance in the Queen’s speech on the 10th of May.
However, despite the lack of mention of the Employment Bill this year, there have been a number of parliamentary developments within employment law over the past twelve months, including a proposal to introduce a statutory code on sexual harassment at work; fire and rehire practices and legislation relating to Carer leave and neonatal pay.
The time scale of these developments is currently ‘when Parliamentary time allows’ and therefore any notable changes are not anticipated to happen overnight. There was also a consultation last year on flexible working amongst other employment matters however no responses have yet been published and therefore movement in these areas over the coming months is unlikely.
So, what does this mean for Employers and Employees?
Many employers already have good practices in place relating to areas mentioned above such as flexible working policies, pregnancy and maternity policies and sexual harassment policies however for those employers who do not, there is concern within trade unions about the exploitation of employees and workers continuing until significant development is seen with the Employment Bill.
Retained EU Law Bill
It is worth noting that the Retained EU Law Bill which was mentioned in the Queen’s speech may see some effect on Employment Law as numerous pieces of UK Employment Legislation derive from the EU. These include some big areas such as discrimination laws; holiday pay; leave entitlement and TUPE (legislation which protects employees on the sale of a business). Whilst there are no current intentions to weaken workers’ rights and it is clear from the proposed Employment Bill that there is the intention to create further protections for workers, it will be interesting to see if any changes do arise as a result of this Bill.
For now, however, there are no imminent changes proposed to Employment Law within the UK.
At O’Donnell Solicitors, our Employment Law team can ensure that your business is adopting the best employment law practices by offering a review of your policies and procedures. Our solicitors can also advise on employment law matters such as maternity and pregnancy discrimination, changes to contract terms and redundancy.
Suzzanne Gardener is a solicitor in our Employment Law Team. Contact Suzzanne on 01457 761 320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a convenient appointment to discuss your Employment Law matter.