What the Queen’s Speech means for Employment and Immigration Legislation

At the opening of Parliament on the 19th of December 2019, the Queen set out details of the new legislation which the Government intends to introduce, with further detail being provided by the Government in the form of briefing notes. Within the legislative programme for the new Parliamentary session are changes to UK employment and immigration law.

New employment legislation

Many of the changes have been raised previously by the Government and contained in ‘The Good Work Plan’. Further detail on this can be found here. The Government has taken this opportunity to reiterate its commitment to these changes and has outlined a new Employment Bill, which includes the following proposals:

  • A right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after completing 26 weeks of service;
  • A new single enforcement body to strengthen the ability to seek redress for poor treatment and increase protection for workers;
  • The right for parents with sick babies to take extended neonatal leave and pay;
  • The extension of redundancy protection to pregnant women from the point an employee notifies her employer of pregnancy until six months after the end of her maternity leave;
  • The introduction of one week’s leave for unpaid carers;
  • An emphasis on flexible working, by making it the default unless employers have a good reason not to;
  • Provisions for all tips to be passed to workers in full, prohibiting employers from making any deductions. Further detail on this new law can be found here.

Following the Government’s ‘health is everyone’s business’ public consultation, detailed proposals are likely to be revealed later this year as part of a national disability strategy. These include measures to encourage employers to retain disabled people and people with health conditions in the workplace and an intention to reduce the disability employment gap.

Legislation will also be introduced to reduce the disruption caused by rail strikes while preserving rail workers’ right to strike. Minimum Service Agreements (MSA) will set out the minimum service pattern that must be provided during strike action and the minimum amount of staff who shall work to provide that service. Any strike without a MSA or which breaches the MSA will be unlawful.

New immigration legislation

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will end free movement in UK law and allow the Government to introduce a new points-based immigration system from 2021. The Bill will subject EU citizens arriving from 2021 to the same immigration system as non-EU citizens and protect the status of Irish citizens following the end of free movement.

The Government also outlined proposals for a fast-track NHS visa scheme, to increase the annual quota for the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Scheme and increase the immigration health surcharge.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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