We have updated our Employment, Incentives and Immigration Horizon-Scanner for the year ahead: take a look at what's coming up!
Highlights: We're still waiting for a couple of significant judgments on vicarious liability from cases heard by the Supreme Court in November 2019. April 2020 sees the introduction of new requirements for the information that must be provided to employees and workers in written statements of particulars, as well as changes to the off-payroll working rules and a new statutory right to parental bereavement leave and other changes. By July 2020, the Supreme Court will have the final say on the question of whether Uber drivers are workers. Finally, proposals for a new Employment Bill and a new Immigration Bill were outlined in the Queen's Speech in December 2019 (see below) and a new Equal Pay Bill was introduced in the House of Lords just last week - so watch this space!
Highlights from the Queen's Speech (19 December 2019)
In the Queen's Speech on 19 December 2019, the newly-elected Government set out proposals for a new Employment Bill, which will include legislation to:
- Create a single enforcement body to support business compliance and to help ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of and can exercise their rights (first referred to in the Good Work Plan);
- Ensure that tips to go to workers in full, by requiring employers to pass on all tips and service charges to workers. The previous government first proposed legislation (supported by a statutory Code of Practice) in the Queen's Speech in October 2019 after consulting on this issue in 2015. The new government seems keen to ensure that new legislation in this area comes into effect soon;
- Create a new right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks service (again, as mentioned in the Good Work Plan)
- Extend redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination to ensuring that redundancy protection will apply from the point an employee informs the employer that she is pregnant until six months after returning to work. The previous government had already committed to bring this in "when parliamentary time allows" and the new government has reiterated that they will table draft legislation to bring this into force;
- Extend leave for neonatal care and pay with the aim of supporting parents of premature or sick babies. This follows a recent consultation by the previous government and the new government seems to be keen to take this forward; and
- Create a new right to carer's leave and make flexible working the default position unless an employer has a good reason, which were both proposals from the Conservative party's election manifesto.
Also in the Queen's Speech on 19 December 2019, the Government announced details of a new Immigration Bill with the purpose of:
- bringing an end to free movement and ensuring that the Government can deliver a new Australian-style points-based immigration system from 2021;
- making EU citizens arriving from 2021 subject to the same UK immigration controls as non-EU citizens, to enable the Government to deliver a single global immigration system based on people's skills;
- protecting the long-standing immigration status of Irish citizens when free movement ends; and
- enabling the Government to deliver future changes to social security co-ordination policy.
2020 looks set to be another busy year for employment law. In addition to changes already due to take effect in April 2020, such as changes to the off-payroll rules and to written statements of particulars (as well as extending the right to receive these to both employees and workers from 'Day 1'), the Queen's Speech in December 2019 included further proposals that will affect employment and immigration law.
Clearly, the main priority for this government will be delivering Brexit, but their stated intention is to do this alongside "an ambitious programme of domestic reform that delivers real change to the lives of individuals and benefits to wider society." In employment terms, this will include new legislation to extend redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination, as well as following through on more radical election promises, such as to make flexible working the default (unless there is a good reason not to) and introducing a new right to carer's leave. Separately, new Private Members Bills have been launched in relation to Equal Pay and Whistleblowing. These proposed changes are due to take place alongside a new Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill intended to "end free movement and deliver a new fair, modern and global immigration system." So, there's certainly no let up on employment law reform in a post-Brexit era just yet. We'll be sure to keep you updated with the latest developments.