The latest legislation and policies proposed by the Government were announced by the Queen in her speech to Parliament recently.
No great detail was given but it is clear what the current Government’s priorities are: the main focus from an employment law perspective within the speech was on National Minimum Wage enforcement and zero hours contracts
The Queen indicated there would be a ‘crackdown’ on employers’ abuse of zero hour contracts. This is obviously already on the Government’s agenda and we are currently awaiting a response to their consultation on the future of zero hour contracts. Unofficially, it has been suggested that those working on these contracts may be given the right to request guaranteed hours with a scheme running in a similar way to that which is used to request flexible working.
The enforcement of the National Minimum Wage has been gradually increased over the last couple of years but it is clear that the Government do think that this is enough. The maximum fine for employer offenders who do not pay the minimum rates to their workers is currently £20,000 but it is expected that this will be amended so that the maximum will apply to each worker who has been underpaid, rather than an overall maximum.
The Queen also mentioned planned changes to the public sector redundancy pay system. It is reasonably common for highly paid public sector staff to be made redundant from their role but subsequently begin a new role in the same part of the public sector. In this circumstance the worker would get to keep their redundancy pay. It is expected that measures will be put in place so that the worker surrenders their redundancy pay if they return to the same part of the public sector ‘within a short period of time’.
There will also be a crackdown on tribunal delays which are costly to the system; and the red tape which surrounds small businesses will be frequently reviewed to ensure regulations remain effective