The Queen's Speech: A Summary of Employment Implications
On 21 June 2017, the Queen's Speech set out details of legislation that the Government intends to continue, or introduce, in the 2017-19 Parliamentary session.
Key points of interest for employment practitioners are:
National Living Wage
The National Living Wage is going to be increased to 60% of median earnings by 2020, meaning that the wages of the lowest paid will increase quicker than average in order to achieve this. Whilst recognising that this needs to be affordable to businesses, the lowest paid will essentially benefit from the same improvements in earnings as higher paid workers in order to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace.
The Immigration Bill, covering the whole of the UK, will launch new national rules on immigration and will enable the government to repeal EU immigration law. The Bill will include new powers to govern the immigration status of individuals in the European Economic Area (EEA) and will allow the Government to repeal EU law on immigration, predominantly the free movement of people, which otherwise would have been converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill. These changes will mean that the immigration of EU nationals and their family members will fall within the scope of relevant UK law post-Brexit.
A new Data Protection Bill will be introduced and will replace the Data Protection Act 1998. This will implement the provisions of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May 2018, and will enable the UK to maintain and modernise its ability to facilitate both domestic and cross-border data sharing post-Brexit. The Bill will also include a right to be forgotten when individuals no longer want their data to be processed, subject to there being no legitimate grounds for retaining it.
The Taylor Review is an important step towards ensuring fairness for all and will consider the implications of new models of working on the rights and responsibilities of workers, as well as on employer freedoms and obligations. It is expected to take 6 months within which the review team will embark on a regional tour and speak to employers and workers in the gig economy, the rural economy and the manufacturing economy in a bid to keep pace with new business models.
Gender pay gap and discrimination
Reference was made to a number of past "non-legislative measures", such as gender pay gap reporting, shared parental leave, and extension of the right to request flexible working, all intended to promote equality and diversity in the workplace. The government states that it intends to progress further the issue of the gender pay gap and reduce discrimination on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation.