The Queen delivered her speech on 11 May 2021 but there was an eerie absence of any mention of the proposed Employment Bill.
The Employment Bill is intended to introduce new employment laws such as making the right to flexible working the default position, a week’s leave for carers, extending redundancy protection to pregnant employees and those returning from maternity leave and a new right to 12 weeks’ paid leave for neonatal care.
The Employment Bill was first mentioned by the Queen in December 2019 so why has there been no significant mention of it or attempt to formally introduce it since?
A Downing Street representative revealed that the Employment Bill will be introduced “when the time is right” and referred to the pandemic as being the key reason for its delay. The absence of the Employment Bill in the Queen’s speech has caused trade unions to express concern and accuse the Government of “rowing back” on the rights of employees and workers. This comment is fuelled by the Government’s frequent assurances to improving the rights of workers after the UK leaves the EU.
Despite its delay, employers shouldn’t just forget about the Employment Bill altogether for now – its proposed content will likely impact employers significantly and employers need to be mindful not to make changes now to their internal policies or procedures that may be overhauled by the Employment Bill when it finally comes into play.
The TUC said the government had "rowed back" on its pledge, while the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) said the bill was "long overdue".