This week’s Queen’s Speech suggested that the government is aiming to change certain aspects of employment law and deliver on the Good Work Plan.
The Plan was alluded to during the speech with the statement that the government would “take steps to make work fairer”, and is also referenced in the accompanying written statement.
The Queen’s Speech forms part of the state opening of parliament, where the government outlines its priorities for the upcoming parliamentary year.
What is the Good Work Plan?
The Good Work Plan, created after Matthew Taylor’s Review of Modern Work Practices in December 2018, was described by the government as the “largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights”.
It was initially put on hold due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, but it appears to have become a priority once more.
Taylor tweeted: “Good to see the Queen’s Speech committing to taking forward further aspects of my Good Work plan.
“There is a welcome political consensus around improving working lives. The genuine challenge is making that intention a reality in our complex and changing labour market.”
What does it mean for employers?
Although the details have not yet been finalised, both the Queen and the speech’s supporting notes mentioned several areas of employment law that the government are aiming to change.
Employers should be especially aware of possible changes to the below:
Anti-discrimination regarding flexible working
The government pledges to “increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by stopping employers and workers experiencing significantly different outcomes from flexible forms of working.”
Prevention of poor treatment of workers
“We will strengthen workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment, including by improving the enforcement system, and increase transparency and clarity for workers and employers, taking account of modern working relationships.”
Better support for working families
“We remain committed to giving better support to working families and taking further steps to promote workplace participation for all.”
Fair distribution of tips
“The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill will make sure that tips are kept in full by, or distributed fairly and transparently to, those who work hard to earn them.”
Revisions to the National Living Wage
The Chancellor “has announced the intention to increase the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median hourly earnings and to lower the age threshold for those who qualify from 25 to 21 within the next five years.”
Enhancement of the Pension Regulator’s powers
“They can respond earlier when employers do not take their pension responsibilities seriously, including taking tougher action against those who recklessly risk peoples’ pension benefits, building greater trust for saving in pensions.”
Clarity on pension savings
“A Pension Schemes Bill will enable people to plan their saving for later life by giving them access to information on their pensions’ savings in one place online, for the first time.”
What happens next?
The implementation of these measures depends on whether the legislative programme is passed by Parliament after five days of debate. With the prime minister having no majority, this is by no means guaranteed.
However, in the event of a general election, these changes to employment law could return as part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto.