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The Queens Speech 2012: the effects on employment law

The Queens speech earlier this week was focused on economic and financial reforms intended to boast the UK economy out of dare I say it what the media had termed “a double dip recession”.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill introduces the following changes employers should be aware of:

1. Reforms the employment tribunal system by providing more options for the early resolution of disputes through ACAS.

2. Allows father’s flexible working patterns to enable them to share parenting responsibilities with their partners. Unfortunately for employers no guidance has been provided as to how this will work in practice.

3. Strengthens the framework for setting directors’ pay and shareholder power so they can hold companies to account.

4. Repeals unnecessary legislation to help save businesses time and money.

Despite having the support of David Cameron, legislation to allow gay marriages will not be brought forward in the next parliamentary session.

Other reforms:

Thousands of public workers, including police officers, teachers and civil servants, will be affected by the cuts in their pensions through the Public Service Pensions Bill. Unions are continuing to protest and the Police Federation of England and Wales lead a protect in London on 10 May 2012.

The bill introduces the following reforms:

1. Introduces a new basis for calculating public service pensions, based on the average earnings of a member over their career rather than their salary at, or near to, retirement.

2. Request people to retire later – with pension benefits normally paid at State Pension Age (earlier for members of the police, armed forces and fire fighters’ schemes). Nobody will be made to work longer, but a fair adjustment will be made to their pension if they chose to retire earlier or later.

3. Introduces cost controls so that future unforeseen changes in the cost of pensions are shared by members and employers.

4. Introduces more commonality to the powers and processes across public service pension schemes

I found it particularly interesting to note that the Defamation Bill which reforms the law of defamation to include introducing a requirement that a statement must have caused serious harm for it to be defamatory in order to discourage trivial claims and creating new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.

I am unsure as to whether the reforms will help the economy or whether reforms such as those outlined in the The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will merely add a further layer of complexity for employers to deal with. If you are an employer who has received a flexible working/sharing maternity leave application from a male employee and you are unsure as to how to deal with it please contact me me on 0113 350 4030 for a free initial 30 minute consultation.

For those of you interested in reading the Queens Speech in full, you may find this analysis useful: http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2012/05/09/the-queen-s-speech-2012-in-full

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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