The most interesting topic of the Queen’s speech on 21 June 2017 was about Brexit and it was made clear that the Government’s priority was to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union. The speech confirmed that a bill will be introduced to repeal the European Communities Act which incorporates the provisions of the EU treaties into UK law “The Repeal Bill”. At the time of writing, Brexit negotiations have only just begun so we will have to wait and see what impact this will actually have on employment law.
The Queen’s speech also set out details of other legislation that the Government intends to carry over into, or introduce in the 2017 – 2019 Parliamentary Session. Parliament is intending to sit for a two year parliamentary session instead of the usual one year to give MPs and Peers the time to scrutinise and debate the Government’s approach to Brexit as well as its domestic agenda.
A Few Things to Watch Out For:
A Data Protection Bill
This data protection bill is intending to implement the General Data Protection Regulation. The Government’s aim is to ensure that the UK is put in the best position to maintain its ability to share data with EU member states and internationally after Brexit.
It is intended that the bill will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and is suitable for our new digital age. It is intended that the bill will include a right to be forgotten when individuals no longer want their data to be processed, provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it. The bill will also update the Information Commissioner’s power and ability to impose sanctions.
National Living Wage
The National Living Wage will increase to 60% of medium earnings by 2020. After 2020 the National Living Wage will be deemed to rise in line with average earnings.
The Immigration bill covering the whole of the UK, will establish a new national policy on immigration, including new powers concerning the immigration status of the European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. The bill will allow the Government to repeal EU Law on immigration, primarily free movement, that will otherwise be saved and converted into UK Law by the Repeal Bill. The migration of EU nationals and foreign members will be made subject to relevant UK law once the UK has left the EU.
Tackling the Gender Pay Gap and Discrimination
The Gender Pay Gap was referenced in the Queen’s speech and the government said it will make further progress on this as well as discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation. No new measures were announced in the background briefing to the speech so we will have to wait and see what may arise on these areas.
Given that the Queen stated that her ministers will seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace, it will be interesting to see what the Taylor Review will say which is due to be published shortly. More details about the Taylor Review can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taylor-review-on-modern-employment-practices-launches
The Government wants to ensure that employment rules and rights keep up to date to reflect new ways of working. There has been a rise in the number of people doing “gig” work – short term casual work that is increasingly sought by people through mobile phone apps when they want to work.
For further details on the Queen’s speech see:- https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-2017