Queen’s Speech 2012
30th May, 2012
On 9 May 2012, the Queen delivered her speech at the State Opening of Parliament setting out the government’s policies and proposed legislative programme for the forthcoming parliamentary session.
From an employment law perspective, the key proposals include: the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, the Children and Families Bill and the Crime and Courts Bill.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill
This Bill proposes to implement measures raised in a recent consultation which encouraged: (1) early conciliation of employment disputes by requiring claimants to lodge their claim with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), (2) renaming compromise agreements as “settlement agreements” and (3) looked to improve the employment tribunal system by increasing flexibility (by amending the power to strike out claims and the deposit order test) and encouraging employer compliance by issuing financial penalties.
The Bill also aims to strengthen the framework for setting directors’ pay by strengthening shareholder power. The Bill will repeal section 439(5) of the Companies Act 2006, making it possible for directors’ remuneration to be conditional on the outcome of the shareholder vote on the directors’ remuneration report.
Children and Families Bill
The Bill would give parents access to flexible parental leave so mothers and fathers can share caring responsibilities. Although not specifically mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, in the briefing note it states that there will be a Bill for flexible working following a consultation proposal for an extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment.
Crime and Courts Bill
Although employment tribunals were not specifically mentioned in the briefing notes, the Bill aims include ensuring a swifter, more open, efficient and effective court system and the employment tribunal system may be affected.
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