The new Conservative Government set out its plans for future legislation, which were delivered in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May. Some of these may be relevant to employment law, so we thought it would be helpful to bring you up to date:
Trade Unions Bill
The Government has stated that it wishes to try to reform trade unions and protect public services from disruptions caused by strike action. The new Bill would involve the following:
- A minimum threshold of 50% of voters would be required to turn out to vote on union ballots (with the requirement for a simple majority (i.e. +50%) of votes in favour).
- For industrial action in the health, education, fire and transport services, there would be an additional requirement that 40% of those entitled to vote would need to vote in favour of striking (this would be 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.
European Union Referendum Bill
You can hardly have missed that this is on the agenda! The Government wishes to try to renegotiate the relationship between the UK and the EU and has committed to an in-out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017.
If the UK were to leave the EU it would have very far-reaching implications for our employment laws (amongst other things!). We will watch and wait with interest!
Potential repeal of the Human Rights Act
Repealing the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights was part of the Conservative manifesto, yet in the Queen’s Speech the mention was only of ‘proposals’ for a British Bill of Rights with no detail as to timing or legislation for this. It is thought that this slightly softer approach may be due to the legal and political issues that may be involved in repealing the legislation.
Again, if the HRA were to be repealed this could have significant implications for UK employment law, particularly in the public sector.
The Government has said that it is keen to reduce demand for skilled migrant workers and also wishes to crack down on the exploitation of low-skilled workers. The proposed Immigration Bill would deal with this as follows:
- Illegal working would be made a criminal offence and the Bill would allow wages paid to illegal migrants to be seized as proceeds of crime.
- A new enforcement agency would be created with powers to take action against employers who exploit migrant workers.
- It would become illegal for employment agencies to only recruit from abroad without first advertising those jobs in Britain.
The Government has said that the proposed Enterprise Bill would include measures to reduce regulation on small businesses to help create more jobs. No detail has been given yet on what this would involve.
As part of the Government’s commitment to defeating extremism, this Bill would 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. Again we have no detail yet on how this would work in practice.
We will of course continue to keep you up to date on these and all other employment law developments via our monthly ebulletins.
If you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).
Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.