Has the Employment Bill been indefinitely shelved?
The Employment Bill was first included in the Queen’s Speech over three years ago, but it was notably absent from this year’s reading.
The Bill was expected to introduce a whole host of legislative changes, including a single labour market enforcement body, a revised flexible working regime, the right for workers to request a more predictable contract after 26 weeks of service, extended redundancy protection for pregnant women and those on maternity leave, and statutory paid leave for parents with babies in neonatal care.
Additionally, the Bill would have introduced a new positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, opening up the possibility of liability for third party actions. An announcement from the Business Secretary in September 2021 suggested that the Bill would also include a requirement for employers to pass on all tips to workers without making any deductions, with a statutory code of practice setting out how tips should be distributed.
With no mention of the Bill in this year’s Queen’s Speech, it is unclear what future these proposals have. Some of the legislative changes suggested may still go ahead in some form, in particular the Government appears to still be focussed on its commitments from the Taylor review of modern working practices (most recently updated in 2018). The likelihood is that these proposals have been temporarily shelved whilst employers and the Government are dealing with other challenges such as inflation, increased running costs and the aftermath of the pandemic.