How does the Queen’s Speech 2022 impact employment law?
The Queen’s Speech was delivered by HRH the Prince of Wales on 10 March 2022, on the occasion of the opening of Parliament, setting out the priorities of the government in the forthcoming parliamentary session.
Unfortunately, the long-awaited implementation of the Employment Bill has not been announced. It seems that the rumours circulating prior to this year’s speech were accurate, confirming that employment law reform is not high on the government’s list of priorities for the upcoming year.
Announced in 2019, the new Employment Bill is expected to legislate for enhanced protection for pregnant women, paid carers, and zero hours workers, and to contain provision restricting restaurants, cafés and pubs retaining tips and service charges. Three years later, there is still no draft legislation, and we don’t know when, or even if we will see the new bill on the government’s agenda.
Nonetheless, employers and HR practitioners should pay attention to certain legislative announcements that were included in the Queen’s Speech. Following P&O Ferries’ largely criticised mass redundancies, the government proposed the Harbours (Seafarers’ Renumeration) Bill designed to ensure that British ports have powers to refuse access to ferry services that do not pay their staff an equivalent to the National Minimum Wage while in UK waters.
In addition, the Brexit Freedom Bill is expected to give ministers new powers to overhaul EU law copied to the UK law following Brexit and allow more flexibility to amend such legislation. We will monitor this development and inform you of any changes to employment law that this may bring.
The government also plans to repeal the current Human Rights Act 1998 and introduce a UK Bill of Rights which shall ‘restore the balance of powers between the legislature and the courts’.
According to the government’s briefing note, there is also an ambition to encourage further private sector investment in employees’ training, both for apprentices and for employees generally. This should include a re-assessment of the current tax system – including the operation of the Apprenticeship Levy.
Keep an eye out for more legislative updates from us, as and when they happen.
We’re here to help
Matthew is noted as a ‘leading individual’ by The Legal 500 UK and heads up our employment & business immigration team. He has over 20 years’ experience in the field.