The Queen's speech confirms the government's 'blue-sky thinking' - what is on the horizon for employment law?

The Queen's speech confirms the government's 'blue-sky thinking' - what is on the horizon for employment law?

Published:

Author: Katie Marsden

Applies to: England, Wales and Scotland

The recent Queen's speech has outlined the new Conservative government's legislative plans confirming an in/out referendum on the UK's membership in the European Union to take place by 2017 at the latest.

We also had confirmation of a Childcare Bill which aims to help working people 'by greatly increasing the provision of free childcare'. The proposals include 30 hours' entitlement a week of free childcare for parents of three and four year olds for 38 weeks of the year.

The focus is now on what other plans the Conservative government intend to implement and how this will impact employers.

Below we summarise the headline employment policies:

National minimum wage

  • increase minimum wage to £6.70 by the autumn and to £8 by the end of the decade (2020)
  • raise the tax free personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020 so that those working 30 hours on the minimum wage pay no income tax at all

Zero hour contracts

  • ban of exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts (in force as of 26 May 2015)

Immigration

  • stronger controls on immigration - putting 'hard-working British families first'
  • offence for businesses or recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK

Apprenticeship/creation of jobs

  • aim to create two million more jobs and three million new apprenticeships

Family friendly policies

  • potentially adding maternity pay for self-employed mothers (details awaited)

Childcare

  • 30 hours' entitlement a week of free childcare for parents of three and four year olds for 38 weeks of the year
  • 15 hours' entitlement a week of free childcare for all disadvantaged two-year-olds

Employment tribunals

  • keep current fee structure in place (England & Wales only)

Pay / gender pay gap

  • require companies with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees

Volunteering leave

  • introduction of "volunteering leave" of up to 3 days for those who work in the public sector or in companies with more than 250 employees and substantial changes to reform strike laws and industrial relations

Strike law / industrial relations

  • ban strikes unless there is a turnout of 50% or more for ballots on industrial action and in the core public services, where at least 40 per cent of those eligible to vote back strike action
  • end the ban on using agency staff to cover for essential striking workers

As the dust settles on one of the most unexpected and exciting general elections that the country has seen in years, it really is a case of 'watch this space' to see if the Conservatives can and do deliver on their promises.

Disclaimer

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

About the Author

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Katie Marsden

Solicitor

03700 86 5808

Katie joined Shoosmiths as a Solicitor in October 2014. She advises on all areas of employment law, negotiating settlement agreements for employees and employers, dealing with tribunal claims and advising employers on HR issues such as disciplinaries and grievances and drafting of employment contracts and handbooks.

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