Queen's speech - what do organisations need to know?

Opening a new session of Parliament, the Queen has outlined and confirmed upcoming legal developments that organisations should be aware of.

There is no doubt that this is a very turbulent time for employment law. With Brexit uncertainty continuing to dominate the headlines, and the government’s ongoing commitment to the Good Work Plan, changes are definitely on the horizon. On Monday 14 October, the Queen put forward upcoming government policies and proposed legislation for the new parliamentary session. These included the following:

  • freedom of movement will end post-Brexit and, after January 2021, all EU citizens arriving in the UK will be subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens. This will not apply to individuals from Ireland
  • a new Bill will be introduced to ensure that tips are ‘distributed fairly’ to ‘those who work hard to earn them’
  • the powers of the Pensions Regulator will be enhanced so it can respond earlier if employers are not taking their pension enrolment responsibilities seriously
  • reforms are expected to continue to deliver on the commitments of the Good Work Plan, such as ensuring that employees who want to work flexibly are not unfairly prevented from doing so, stricter enforcement to prevent poor treatment of workers and better support for working families
  • upcoming increases to the National Living Wage were reaffirmed, alongside the lowering of current age thresholds.

It should be noted that most of the developments outlined here we were already previously aware of. We knew that free movement of persons were going to end post-Brexit but it remains unclear what form future immigration laws will take, with commentary suggesting it may be influenced by the current Australian system. Also, whilst the government remains committed to delivering Brexit, it is still unclear if the UK will leave the EU, with or without a deal, on 31 October.

Additionally, implementing the Good Work Plan is already well underway, with new laws coming into force as a direct result of the Plan from April 2020. The government has also recently evaluated ways of improving support for working parents in the workplace, having previously pledged to extend redundancy protections for new mothers, and those on shared parental leave, following a consultation held earlier in the year.

It should also be remembered that these provisions are dependent upon Boris Johnson’s Conservative government winning a general election and could see some significant developments if a Labour government was to reach an overall majority. With an election looking increasingly likely as we head towards the end of 2019, it is highly advisable that organisations remain up to date with all future developments as they come. If enacted, there is no doubt that the provisions outlined here would have far reaching implications for employment law.

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