The government announced its legislative plans for the coming parliamentary year on 9 May 2012. Among the measures announced by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament were the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Children and Families Bill (“the Bills”) which contain proposals for changes in employment law, including;

  • providing alternatives to the employment tribunal process for workplace dispute resolution by encouraging all claimants to lodge their claims with ACAS;
  • renaming compromise agreements as “settlement agreements” to more accurately reflect their function and encourage greater use – the government has also previously announced the intention of simplifying the use and form of compromise/settlement agreements; and
  • improving the tribunal system by increasing flexibility and encouraging employer compliance – this will no doubt include the previously announced plan to introduce penalties on employers who lost at tribunal and also fees for claimants;
  • strengthening shareholders’ power so that they can hold companies to account in relation to directors’ pay by way of binding votes on the directors’ remuneration report; and
  • giving parents access to flexible parental leave so that they can share caring responsibilities in a way that best fits their needs.

The majority of these measures have already been trialed in government announcements over recent months and a number have already been the subject of consultation.