Queen's Speech

The Queen made several announcements in Parliament on how the country would be run over the coming year. Of key importance was the economy and in particular helping ease the burdens on employers of certain unnecessary legislation. As such it was confirmed that there would be a continuance in the repealing of unneeded regularisation in the employment sphere.

The Government had already begun its de-regularisation of the employment market in an effort to encourage more employers to take on staff. It had long been felt that there were too many onerous measures placed on employers which were putting them off taking on more staff. We have already witnessed relaxation of certain regulatory measures, for example within the Health & Safety regulations and the need to report on accidents and injuries at the workplace. In furtherance of this goal the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill hopes to facilitate business growth by giving employers the confidence they need to move forward.

An important area which has already been considered is that of disputes in the workplace. Dispute resolution continues to be a major factor that the Government recognise as causing employers to fear for the connected costs. In the past protected conversations had been extensively discussed to help give employers more confidence that they will not be subjected to dismissal litigation. The proposals, however, suggest a complete overhaul to dispute resolution. The aim being to solve disputes sooner rather than later. An improved tribunal system is suggested as the method of achieving this. The Bill itself mentions an encouragement of "early conciliation" using ACAS as a third party who will aid the process.

Further HR implications include the announcement that parental leave after the birth of a child will be transferable. This means that one partner may return to work sooner than needed and transfer their unused leave to their partner. This will obviously have administrative burdens on the employer but is good news for working parents. This change allows employers to really offer flexible working to their staff in more ways than one. However, John Cridland of the Confederation of British Industry, the UK's largest employment organisation, agrees with the former opinion saying "If anything, most of the bills expected will add to the regulatory burden."

Overall, there wasn't much to be surprised about from the Queen's speech in relation to employment law and its impact on HR. The main theme being that the Government will continue in its aim to do all that it can to encourage further employment via the repeal of unnecessary and onerous legislation. As such it is likely that we will continue to witness discussions as to which regulations to repeal next. Let's hope that in their efforts to improve the working environment for those actually in employment, the Government manages not to inadvertently increase the regulatory burden on employers- vicious cycle?

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