The Queen’s Speech is the ceremony where the government announces the bills that will be presented to parliament over the coming parliamentary sessions.
Today’s Queen’s Speech will cover the next two years, unless there’s a change in government. Therefore what has been announced today will be the government’s main agenda until the next Speech in 2019.
Because of the Conservatives’ slim majority in the House of Commons, which means they may struggle to get more controversial legislation through, today’s Speech was scaled back and focused mainly on Brexit. However, there were a few areas that recruiters should be aware of.
Repeal Bill This will convert all EU law into UK law following the UK’s exit from the European Union, allowing for a smooth transition and guaranteeing legislative stability.
The REC’s key ask is that government avoids any changes to EU employment legislation until after the negotiations are finished.
This will effectively end freedom of movement with the European Union and allow the UK government to control the number of EU citizens entering the country. What future EU migration policy will look is yet to be determined, and is likely to be consulted on over the coming months.
The REC is urging government to recognise that UK businesses will still need to access people of all skill levels from the EU to fill vacancies. Future EU immigration policy should be evidence based, and formed by independent advice and in full consultation with the business community.
Data Protection Bill
This bill aims to ensure that the UK has data protection rules that are fit for the 21st Century. It will implement the new EU GDPR data protection rules into UK law, meeting our obligations as a current EU member state but also putting the UK in the best position for sharing data with other member states once we leave the EU.
The REC has been informing members of the GDPR changes which will be introduced in May 2018, producing a GDPR factsheet and FAQs which members can access on our legal guide. We will also be holding a webinar on this topic on 27 June which members can sign up to here.
The government has also committed to a number of policy areas which won’t necessarily require new legislation, including:
Technical education – the government will invest an extra half billion a year to increase the number of hours of technical learning, and to introduce new work placements. New ‘T levels’ will be designed by employers and grouped by sector. The Speech also included a commitment to creating millions of apprenticeships to ensure employers have access to the skills they need.
We will continue to make the case that the Apprenticeship Levy should be broadened into a ‘training levy’, so that temporary workers can benefit from the levy funds.
National Living Wage – the government has recommitted to increase the NLW to 60 per cent of median earnings by 2020, and said that it will continue to increase after 2020. Worker’s rights – the Speech acknowledged the contribution of flexible work to the UK economy, but reiterated the government’s desire to ensure employment rules and rights keep pace with new ways of working. The Taylor Review, expected in mid-July, should tell us more about the direction of travel. The REC presented both written and oral evidence to the Review and will be publishing our recommendations shortly. Tackling Discrimination – the Speech acknowledged that further progress is needed to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation. The REC is working closely with the government on the follow up to both the McGregor-Smith and Parker reviews.
This Queen’s Speech was not expected to contain lots of new bills due to political circumstances and the dominance of the work related to Brexit, but as the CBI have noted today’s Speech does suggest a change of tone regarding the government’s attitude towards business.
Following the general election, the government is likely to consult more across different parties and stakeholders, and we are optimistic that this will mean greater opportunities for our industry to engage.
The REC will continue to ensure that the recruitment industry’s voice is heard as the government starts to build the UK’s future outside of the European Union.