The Government has published its response to consultation on reforms which aim to clamp down on the widespread practice of civil servants who are also trade union representatives spending all their time doing trade union work. In future, trade union representatives working in the civil service will have to spend at least 50% of their time delivering their civil service role. Appropriate systems will also be introduced to increase accountability and to ensure that time spent on union work is properly monitored.

BIS has issued details of responses to its recent Call for Evidence on the draft EU Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive. The new Directive seeks to improve implementation and enforcement of the rules on minimum employment and working conditions set out in the existing Posted Workers Directive. The responses include views on the proposals for clarifying what constitutes a posted worker, improving access to information on the applicable working conditions in different member states, and introducing joint and several liability in the construction sector. Discussions on the new Enforcement Directive are likely to continue at European level into next year.

Further employment-related amendments have been made to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which is now progressing through the House of Lords. These include repeal of the third party harassment provisions and the discrimination questionnaire procedure in the Equality Act 2010, and introduction of a power for employment tribunals to order pay audits where an employer has lost an equal pay claim.

BIS has published the draft Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013, which will come into force in October 2013. The regulations include a requirement for quoted companies to disclose numbers of men and women on the board, in management positions, and in the organisation as a whole.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published an updated version of its guidance on remuneration principles. There are no substantive changes to these principles, although the guidance has been restructured to make it clearer and a new appendix sets out the ABI’s views on the new remuneration and reporting requirements which will apply to listed companies for financial years ending after 1 October 2013.

BIS has published an independent report on apprenticeships by Doug Richard. This recommends reform to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure that they are relevant to the changing needs of employers. Mr Richard’s proposals include increasing government funding, using recognised industry standards to form the basis for every apprenticeship, and introducing mandatory off-site learning. The Government is due to respond to the review during 2013.

The European Commission has published a draft directive aimed at improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies. This would require member states to introduce legislation ensuring that women hold at least 40% of non-executive director positions in listed companies, and that women are given priority if there are male and female candidates who are equally qualified. There would also need to be sanctions for infringements of the requirements of the directive. The directive will not apply to small and medium sized enterprises.