The Queen has delivered her 2015 speech and employment law was, as ever, a key topic. Below we look through some of the key Government legislation and constitutional plans that will impact on employment law. These relate to tax allowances and the national minimum wage, trade unions, provision of free childcare, migrant workers, apprenticeships, Europe and the British Bill of Rights.
EU Referendum Bill
With confirmation that the government will carry out a referendum on EU membership we can only speculate on the impact this will have on Employment law, however, it would be hard to see how an exit from Europe would not affect working time, free movement of persons, immigration and TUPE.
British Bill of Rights
The conservative government in its pre-election manifesto made clear its intention to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’. This was briefly mentioned by the Queen, however no draft legislation has been presented yet.
If this plan does come to fruition it could have an impact on discrimination law going forward as the Human Rights Act currently underpins this.
Trade Unions Bill
The Queens speech confirmed that there will be proposals to change strike and trade union laws. The forthcoming Trade and Unions Bill will require a minimum turnout of at least 50% in strike ballots for the outcome to be valid. If the strike action is to be taken by an “essential public services” provider such as education, health, fire and the currently newsworthy transport industry at least 40% of all eligible voters will have to vote in favour.
The Bill also contains provisions preventing intimidation of non-striking workers during a strike and time limits of mandates following a ballot for industrial action.
It would seem that the Bill and its provisions are aiming to reduce the power of striking.
Tax Allowances and Minimum Wage
The Government has made assurances that employees on National Minimum Wage (“NMW”) who work up to 30 hours will not have to pay income tax. There has also been a commitment expressed to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 which will ensure that changes in the NWM are reflected.
Provision of free childcare
As part of the Conservative Government’s pledge to help and assist working people it has devised the Childcare Bill to help with childcare commitments. The Bill introduces greater free childcare provisions for eligible parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week (for 38 weeks of the year).
This is always a hot topic and the Government intends to make it harder for migrant workers to work illegally in the UK. The Immigration Bill is anticipated to make it illegal to recruit from abroad without advertising the role in the UK, as well creating a new enforcement agency to eradicate exploitation of workers.
A new Enterprise Bill is due to be introduced which will seek to reinvest savings made from reducing the benefits cap. The Queen’s speech made the point that one use for these savings will be in creating approximately three million modern apprenticeships.
Over the coming weeks, months and years it will be very interesting to see how the Government’s policies manifest themselves into law and the ramifications that will have on Employment law in the UK. We will be watching this closely…
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