The 2022-2023 Parliamentary Session will start with the State Opening on 10 May 2022. At the State Opening the Queen formally opens the UK Parliament and, in the Queen’s Speech, outlines the Government’s proposed policies and legislation for the coming parliamentary session. What is likely to be included?
The issues and draft bills that we are likely to see can be divided up between:
- The legislation that has already been introduced the House of Commons and carried over, or was published in draft, in the last session; and
- The plans for legislation, announced in the May 2021 Queen’s Speech, that have not progressed and might still form part of the UK Government’s plans; and,
- New measures to be announced in the next Queen’s Speech.
Which bills have been ‘carried over’ to the next session?
For a bill to be carried over a motion must be agreed in the House of Commons. The following bills will be carried over.
- Online Safety Bill
- Product Safety and Telecommunications Bill
- Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
Bills not taken forward, but which may reappear
Some bills that were announced in the May 2021 Queen’s Speech were not taken forward but may reappear in one guise or another the 2022-23 session. These are:
- Animals Abroad Bill
- Counter-State Threats Bill
- Legacy Bill
- Planning Bill
- Procurement Bill
Topics mentioned in briefings for the 2021 Queen’s Speech, but not taken forward
The following topics were mentioned in the briefing that accompanied the 2021 Queen’s Speech but have not been taken forward included:
- Renters’ Reform Bill
- Victims Bill
- Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill.
Research briefing of issues and bills that may appear in 2022
The House of Commons library has published a list of issues and bills that may appear in the Queen’s speech on 10 May 2022, or require legislation in the 2022-23 parliamentary session, which are as follows:
- Social Housing Regulation
- Prison and probation scrutiny bodies
- Leasehold and commonhold reform
- Review of retained EU law
- Schools policy:
- Home education
- School funding
- Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms
- Lifelong Loan Entitlement
- Reform of the Mental Health Act
- Economic crime
- Digital markets reform
- Financial services
- Access to cash
- Audit reform
- Insolvency reform
- Parole Board reform
- Levelling up
- Local government
- Bill of Rights (Human Rights)
- Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation
- Counter-terrorism strategy: ‘Protect duty’
- Conversion therapy
- Modern slavery
- Gene editing
- National minimum wage for ferry crews
- Channel 4 ownership
- Consolidation of immigration legislation
It is usual for draft bills to be published shortly after the Queen’s speech.
Where is the promised Employment Bill?
The Employment Bill – which was originally promised in the Queen’s Speech in 2019 – is, once again, missing. Indeed, the only, directly, employment law related topic seems to be the proposed bill for a National Minimum wage for ferry crews.
Since 2019 there has been speculation in the HR press about what will be included in the Employment Bill, and when it will be introduced. Over the last 3 years the frenzy of anticipation has turned into a subdued discussion about whether the UK Government was actually serious about introducing an Employment Bill at all.
What was expected to be included in the Employment Bill?
The Employment Bill was expected to include new rights for:
- Flexible working – Right to request flexible working from day one.
- Right to request more stable and predictable contract – A new right for workers with variable hours to request a more stable and predictable contract after 26 weeks’ service.
- Carers Leave – A new right for working carers to take up to 5 days [unpaid] carers leave each year to carry out caring responsibilities.
- Neonatal Carers Leave – A right for 12 weeks paid Neonatal care where babies spent time in neonatal care units.
- Pregnancy Rights – Improved redundancy protection for Pregnant workers.
- Tips Regulation – Regulations governing how tips are distributed.
- Non-Compete clauses – Proposals to regulate non-compete clauses.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements – Reforms are expected.
I think that there is an outside chance that the UK Government may seek to announce new legislation which encompasses some aspects of employment rights. One would expect that after 3 years of talk, and a barrage of consultations, that any promised comprehensive draft legislation would be ‘oven ready’, or, at the very least, taken out of the fridge and given an airing.
I consider that it if changes to employment law do come then they are, at the moment, unlikely to be far reaching or ambitious. I think it more likely that there may be some small, piecemeal, changes in separate legislation. In the current economic climate the electorate may find it easier to embrace the spirit of a Carers Leave Bill – to allow up to 5 days unpaid leave per year – rather than a more comprehensive update of UK employment law.
Philip Henson is a Partner, and Head of Employment law at ebl miller rosenfalck in London. He is also the Chair of the Law Reform Committee of the City of Westminster and Holborn Law Society.
For further information and advice, please contact our employment team. The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice specific to your situation, and should not be relied upon. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for your specific circumstances and before any action is taken.
© Miller Rosenfalck LLP. May 2022