The recent Queen’s Speech has provided some insight into the government’s plans for employment law. Here are the key areas to note:

  • European Union Referendum Bill - the government will renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU. The Bill will provide for an in-out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017.
  • Bill of Rights - the government will bring forward proposals for a Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998.
  • Trade Unions Bill – new legislation will be introduced to reform trade unions and protect essential public services against strikes. Key provisions will include the following:
    • The introduction of a new 50% turnout threshold of those entitled to vote.
    • The introduction of a new requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote must vote in favour of industrial action in certain essential public services (health, education, fire, transport).
  • Immigration Bill - this new Bill will make illegal working a criminal offence and provide that wages paid to illegal migrants will be seized as proceeds of crime. It will be illegal for employment agencies to recruit solely from abroad without advertising those jobs in Britain and in English. A new enforcement agency will also be created.
  • Finance Bill/National Insurance Contributions Bill - this will ensure that individuals working 30 hours a week or less on the national minimum wage do not pay income tax. There will also be no rises in rates for income tax, VAT or National Insurance contributions for the next five years.
  • Enterprise Bill - this will introduce measures to reduce regulation on small businesses to help them create jobs. It will also introduce a cap on exit payments made to public sector workers.
  • Childcare Bill - this will give eligible working parents 30 hours a week of free childcare for their three and four year olds for 38 weeks of the year.
  • Extremism Bill - as part of the government’s new strategy to defeat extremism, it will introduce a range of measures, including the ability of employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.
  • Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill - this will include statutory duties on ministers to report annually on progress against meeting the target of 3 million new apprenticeships, as well as progress on meeting the government’s objective of achieving the highest employment rate in the G7.