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Employment Bill omitted from May 2022 Queen’s Speech

12 May 2022

One of the most notable features of the May 2022 Queen’s Speech (delivered by Prince Charles due to Her Majesty’s reported mobility issues) was the absence of the much discussed Employment Bill.

The Bill was first proposed in December 2019 but has been repeatedly delayed. Since 2019, many of the changes that are due to be included in the Bill have become increasingly important, such as the right to request flexible working from day one and the extension of redundancy protection for women.

The 2019 Employment Bill initially included the following:

  • A single enforcement body. A single labour market enforcement agency (to better ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of and can exercise their rights and which supports business compliance) was proposed as part of the Good Work Plan
  • Tips to go to workers in full. In the Queen's Speech, in October 2019, the government proposed legislation to require employers to pass on all tips and service charges to workers and, supported by a statutory Code of Practice, to ensure that tips would be distributed on a fair and transparent basis. Treatment of tips and service charges has been the subject of previous consultation and government announcements.
  • The right to request a more predictable contract.The government previously indicated its intention to legislate to introduce a right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks' service as part of the Good Work Plan.
  • Pregnancy and maternity discrimination: extending redundancy protection.The government previously announced its intention to extend the period of redundancy protection from the point an employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy (whether orally or in writing) until six months after the end of their maternity leave.
  • Leave for neonatal care.The government consultation on a new right to neonatal leave and pay, to support parents of premature or sick babies closed on 11 October 2019.
  • A week's leave for unpaid carers. This proposal was made in the Conservative party's election manifesto.
  • Making flexible working the default. As set out in the Conservative party's election manifesto, the government intends, subject to consultation, to make flexible working the default position unless an employer has a good reason.

The General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O'Grady, has written to the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, warning that the failure to bring forward the Bill will encourage "rogue employers" to treat employees poorly.

Given the significant potential impact that the Employment Bill would have had on workers across the UK, we await to see how the government will address the gaps in the future.

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