Last week’s Queen’s Speech outlined the minority Government’s legislative programme for the next two years. Many of the key promises made in the election manifesto have not been included. Here is what was proposed relating to employment law:
- Perhaps not a huge surprise but the topic of Brexit is central to the legislative agenda of the next Parliamentary session. Central to this is the commitment to enact the Repeal Bill (no longer the ‘Great’ Repeal Bill) which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and convert existing EU law into UK law at the time of UK’s departure. The Bill will also create powers for secondary legislation to be made to enable corrections to laws that may not otherwise operate appropriately.
- Other points of interest included the commitment to increase the national living wage (NLW) to 60% of median income by 2020 and then after 2020 it will subsequently be increased with average earnings. The NLW applies to workers who are aged over 25.
- The Speech also announced the Immigration Bill which will establish a new national policy on immigration. The Repeal Bill will repeal EU law on immigration following Brexit that would otherwise be saved and converted into UK law, so the Bill will establish new powers concerning the immigration status of EEA nationals.
- The so-called ‘gig economy’ was a hot topic of the Conservative Manifesto with Theresa May promising the greatest expansion of workers’ rights. The Queen’s Speech reflected this theme to a degree when it referenced the Matthew Taylor Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy which is due for publication shortly, but did not give any further concrete commitment to workers’ rights.
- The Speech gave reference to making ‘further progress’ in tackling the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation. However at present there does not appear to be any further plans to ask large employers to publish information on the pay gap for people from different ethnic backgrounds.
- The new Data Protection Bill will implement the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with a commitment to make the UK’s data protection framework fit for the digital age. The new regime will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will come into force in May 2018 so organisations will have already started planning for it. In addition the Data Protection Bill will also protect the personal data of young people and require major social media platforms to delete information held about people at the age of 18, in addition to ‘empower[ing] individuals to have more control over their personal data including a right to be forgotten’.