June 26, 2017

Queen’s Speech 2017: employment issues

This note looks at the key issues for employers in the recent Queen's Speech.  The Queen outlined the laws the minority Government intends to introduce (or carry over into) the 2017-19 Parliamentary session. A number of the Conservative manifesto pledges were not included in the Queen's Speech - including new leave rights, worker representation on Boards and rights for parents and carers returning to work – and with Brexit negotiations, it is unlikely there will be much time in this Parliamentary session for significant workplace reforms.

Immigration

There will be a new national policy on immigration with new powers on the immigration status of EU nationals. The Government will remove EU immigration laws (primarily free movement) and after Brexit, the migration of EU nationals will be made subject to the relevant UK law.

Click here for a detailed update on the Government's proposal on EU nationals' rights to remain in the UK.

National living wage

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

Employment status and the gig economy

The Government will seek to "enhance rights and protection in the workplace". It is not clear precisely what this means at this stage but presumably the Government will consider the recommendations of the imminently expected Taylor Review of employment practices.

Data protection

The UK's data protection framework will be updated to give individuals more control over their data, including the right to be forgotten. The existing UK law will be replaced with the new EU data protection regulation that comes into force in May 2018 so that the UK can continue to share data with EU member states after Brexit.

Closing pay gaps and discrimination

The Goverment intends to make more progress in tackling gender pay and reducing discrimination on all grounds but has not announced any new measures. Although the Conservative manifesto said that large employers would be required to report on pay disparities between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, there was no specific mention of the race pay gap in the Queen's Speech.

 

It seems that over the next two years, one of the most significant changes for employers will be the introduction of the new data protection law, as well as changes or clarification of the rules surrounding employment status, which are likely to be significant particularly for gig economy employers.