Employment law in the Queen’s Speech
The Conservatives may have lost their majority in the general election, but they remain in power. Their manifesto promised a new right for parents to take leave on the death of a child, a right to unpaid time off to care for sick relatives and a right to request unpaid time off to undertake training. This last proposal can be sensibly dropped on the basis that the right already exists (see Part 6A of the Employment Rights Act 1996!), but there should be no reason why the other two measures could not go ahead. The manifesto also made proposals about boardroom pay and the improved representation of employees at board level that could be expected to achieve cross-party support.
When it came to the Queen’s Speech, however, there was no mention of any of these measures. The Government reaffirmed its commitment to equality, eliminating the gender pay gap and looked forward to the publication of the Taylor Review of modern employment practices – but did not suggest any actual legislation affecting employment law. This does not prevent the Government implementing its manifesto proposals at some later stage – but it does suggest that they are not regarded as a priority.
The reality may well be that Brexit is expected to take up so much Parliamentary time and Government attention that there simply isn’t room for much else. The main planks of the proposed legislation should be published soon and we will start to assess what the impact of Brexit will be on employment law. A key question is the extent to which the Repeal Bill incorporates aspects of EU law that are set out in the case law of the European Court of Justice (think of the inclusion of overtime in the calculation of holiday pay) and the mechanism by which EU-based employment law can be changed in the future. Will it take an Act of Parliament to amend TUPE post-Brexit, or could changes be made be made simply through new Regulations?
The Queen’s Speech may have been a rather light in terms of employment law, but there are some weighty matters that will need to be resolved