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Employment law reform announced in the Queen’s Speech

Yesterday’s Queen Speech identified the following employment related proposals:

  • Crack down on the abuse of zero-hours contracts. The Government’s response to its consultation on the use of zero-hours contracts is expected to be announced over the next few months.
  • Tackle national minimum wage abuses. A Liberal Democrat press release suggests that the measures to tackle NMW abuse will be the previously announced change to legislation so that employers who fail to pay the NMW will face penalties of up to £20,000 per employee rather than £20,000 in total.
  • Reduce employment tribunal delays. No detail was given, although speculation on Twitter suggests that this might be a reform of the equal pay claim procedure.
  • Stop highly paid public sector employees keeping redundancy payments when they come back to the same part of the public sector ‘within a short period of time’.
  • Make some childcare regulations more flexible to meet the needs of working families. This seems to be a reference to the planned new financial scheme to support working families by giving support equivalent to basic rate tax relief on money spent on childcare, up to a maximum of £2,000 per year for each child (from August 2015).
  • Ensure that the red tape that affects small businesses is frequently reviewed to ensure regulations are either cut or remain effective.
  • Replace long complex apprenticeship frameworks with short, simple standards describing the skills and knowledge that an individual needs to be fully competent in an occupation. This is intended to help to deliver the Government’s ambition of 2 million apprenticeship starts over this Parliament.

There are no real surprises here, the Government having already indicated an intention to strengthen the law on the national minimum wage and to regulate zero-hours contracts.

Very little detail is available on the proposals at this stage. We will blog again when we know more.

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