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Queen’s Speech indicates that employment law reforms are low on the Government’s agenda

The general election gamble has left the Conservative Government weakened and without an overall majority in the House of Commons. Reaching an agreement with the EU on Brexit is at the top of the Government’s agenda. The immigration implications of this process are of particular concern to many of our clients and will remain so whilst the status of EU citizens remains up in the air. However, it does not appear as though the Government will seek to make many changes to employment law for the time being.

The Queen’s Speech set out details of legislation that the Government intends to carry over into, or introduce in, the 2017-19 Parliamentary session. These include:

1 Changes to the UK’s immigration policy in respect of EU citizens

The Immigration Bill will establish a new national policy on immigration, including new powers concerning the immigration status of European Economic Area nationals. The Bill will allow the Government to repeal EU law on immigration, primarily free movement, which otherwise would have been saved and converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill. The migration of EU nationals and their family members will be made subject to relevant UK law after Brexit.

2 Increases to the National living wage

The national living wage will increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020. After 2020, it will continue to rise in line with average earnings.

3 Changes to Data protection

The UK intends to implement the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Significant changes will come into effect from May 2018 and businesses will have to make changes to the way in which they handle and process information. For more information about this, please click here.

4 Government’s review into employment practices will be published

Last year the government appointed Matthew Taylor to look at how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models and promote fairness between companies and their staff. The report is expected make recommendations in respect of the use of zero hours contracts and the so-called ‘gig economy’ workers.

The Government has said that it will publish the report within the next few weeks. However there is no indication that it will put into effect any of the proposals.

5 Gender pay gap and discrimination

The Government has said that it intends to make further progress in tackling the gender pay gap and reducing discrimination on all grounds. No new measures were announced, but existing steps (such as the introduction of gender pay gap reporting and shared parental leave) were referenced.

Published: 3 July 2017

Employment Law Update - July 2017

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Sybille Steiner