On 10th May 2022, the annual Queen’s Speech was made by the HRH Price of Wales, and while it touched on some areas of employment – namely Data Reform, Brexit, and the Modern Slavery Bill – it made no mention of the long-anticipated Employment Bill.

In this short blog we share everything you need to know about employment law in 2022.

What’s Changing?

The Queen’s speech contained four references and bills which are relevant to employment. These are:

  1. Harbours Bill, also known as the Seafarers’ remuneration Bill. This Bill comes in direct response to the action of P&O in firing its crew with no notice and replacing them with agency staff who receive much lower wages. It gives UK ports the right and the power to refuse entry to any ship whose crew receives less than the National Minimum Wages in the UK.
  2. Modern Slavery Bill. This Bill outlined a requirement for all companies with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual statement, sharing the steps that they are taking to prevent and combat modern slavery. Any company not complying will be fined.
  3. Brexit Freedoms Bill. Any laws which have been inherited or integrated into UK law as a result of being in the EU can now be changed without voted in parliament.
  4. Data Reform Bill. Data collection and privacy will be transitioned from a box-ticking exercise into something which is focussed on outcomes – saving businesses from endless paperwork and instead creating action-based frameworks and systems for GDPR.

The four Bills outlined above all focus on the wellbeing and protection of workers’ rights – however there were some areas of employment law which were notably missing from the speech. These fall under the Employment Bill which was first referenced in 2018 and which the government has committed to but not yet delivered.

The Long-Awaited (and still elusive) Employment Bill

The Bill is expected to cover the following reforms:

  • Flexible working – and turning this into a right for all workers from their first day in employment rather than something they have to wait 26 weeks for.
  • Extending redundancy protection to pregnant workers and adding a further six months’ worth of protection to mothers after the end of their maternity leave
  • Giving carers the right to a week’s unpaid leave
  • Giving parents up to 12 weeks’ worth of paid neonatal leave if their baby needs neonatal care
  • Sexual harassment reform, putting a duty of care in the hands of employers to protect their workers from sexual harassment
  • Restricting the use of NDAs in workplace settlement agreements

It could be that these areas are integrated into future legislation rather than wrapped up into a single Employment Bill, but this remains to be seen. And as more is revealed about the pending reforms – both those confirmed and those as yet only rumoured – Workforce will be there to report back on what to expect and how best to prepare your business for change. Furthermore, as more is revealed about the pending reforms – both those confirmed and those as yet only rumoured – Workforce will be there to report back on what to expect and how best to prepare your business for change.