3rd June 2015
Employment Law Implications of The Queen’s Speech
In the Queen’s Speech which was delivered on 27 May 2015, the new government has set out its plans to introduce the following legislation which will impact on employment law:
Trade Unions Bill
This Bill sets out to reform trade unions and protect essential public services from disruption caused by strikes, by introducing the following provisions:
- Minimum threshold of 50% of voters to turn out to vote on union ballots (with the requirement for a simple majority of votes in favour).
- For industrial action in the health, education, fire and transport services, the requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote, vote in favour of striking (in addition to the minimum 50% voting turnout threshold).
- Prevention of intimidation of non-striking workers during a strike.
- Time limits on mandates following a ballot for industrial action.
Finance Bill/National Insurance Contributions Bill
The government will ensure that future increases to the personal income tax allowance are linked to changes to the national minimum wage. This will mean that people working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage will not pay income tax.
Legislation will also be brought forward to ensure that there are no rises in income tax rates, VAT rates and National Insurance contributions for individuals, employees and employers for the next five years.
The government wants to help working people through the Childcare Bill, which will increase the provision of free childcare for eligible working parents of children aged three and four years old to 30 hours a week (for 38 weeks of the year).
The government intends to reduce the demand for skilled migrant workers and target the exploitation of low-skilled workers. It is anticipated that the Immigration Bill will achieve these aims through the following provisions:
- Illegal working will be made a criminal offence, allowing wages paid to illegal migrants to be seized as proceeds of crime.
- The creation of a new enforcement agency with powers to take action against employers who exploit migrant workers.
- It will become illegal for employment agencies to only recruit from abroad without advertising those jobs in Britain.
It is anticipated that the Enterprise Bill will introduce:
- Measures to reduce regulation on small businesses to help create more jobs.
- A cap on exit payments made to public sector workers to end six-figure payoffs.
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill
The government has stated that it plans to create three million new apprenticeships over the next five years. The Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill will introduce statutory duties on ministers to report annually on progress towards:
- Achieving full employment; and
- Meeting the target of three million new apprenticeships.
As part of the government’s commitment to defeat extremism, the Bill will introduce a number of measures including the ability for employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.