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The Queen’s Speech 2012: Announcement of Employment Law Changes

Last Wednesday (9 May) saw the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen announced a couple of forthcoming Bills that will be of interest to employers: the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Children and Families Bill.

The draft legislation has not yet been published but we do have some understanding of an outline of the scope and purpose of each Bill.

The Bills will implement the government’s proposed reforms of employment law. There will be an overhaul of the employment tribunal system, encouragement for earlier resolution of employment claims, new shared parental leave and changes to the right to request flexible working.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

This Bill covers several areas, but of particular interest for employers will be the provisions for encouraging early conciliation of employment disputes by requiring claimants to lodge their claim with ACAS. Also, compromise agreements will be renamed ‘settlement agreements’, making them simpler and capable of compromising all claims without a detailed list of specific claims included.

The Bill also proposes improvements to the Employment Tribunals system, by “increasing flexibility and encouraging employer compliance”. We do not yet have details of the specific proposals but expect that financial penalties for unsuccessful respondents will be introduced.

This Bill also aims to “strengthen the framework for setting directors’ pay” by “strengthening shareholder power” – a very hot topic, considering the recent ‘shareholder spring’ at Barclays.

The Children and Families Bill

This Bill also covers a range of issues, with measures for flexible parental leave of interest to employers: this will allow mothers and fathers to share caring responsibilities between them. It is also anticipated that the Bill will cover extensions to the right to request flexible working.

Employment law updates

Lyons Davidson’s Employment Department will keep all clients informed of the development of the Bills as they progress through Parliament, ensuring that all are fully informed about the ways in which the changes may affect their business.

If you need help on this or any other aspect of employment law, contact Lyons Davidson’s employment team.

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Lyons Davidson