On 19 December 2019 the Queen announced to the newly formed Parliament the Employment Bill (the Bill). It was to be published, consulted and debated on in 2020 but a global pandemic rather shunted that discussion off the agenda.

It is now expected to be published in 2021, Parliamentary time permitting, and the measures are wide-ranging, several originating from the Good Work Plan back in 2018. The headlines of the Bill are outlined below for information and to provide a long view. We have, as yet, no timings or details for implementation although it is unlikely to be published before the current vaccination programme is more widespread, lockdown is easing, and some 'normality' is returning.

Right to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service
This measure is to address the unpredictability of zero-hours contracts and the vulnerability zero-hours workers often feel. Early commentary on this measure intimated that the process may be like that of requesting flexible working practices, but this has not been confirmed.

Longer redundancy protection for pregnant employees
Under current legislation, pregnant employees are given protections against redundancies for the duration of their maternity leave. Under the Bill, this protection period would be extended to the date employees notify their employer of their pregnancy until six months after their return to work. 

Extended leave for parents of children in neonatal care
We understand that the Government intends to introduce the right for parents to take an additional week of leave for every week their baby is in need of neonatal care, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. The leave will be added to the end of the parent’s maternity or paternity leave. 

Carers’ leave
The Government consulted in March 2020 on the proposal to introduce a new right for employees with caring responsibilities to take a week’s unpaid leave each year. The consultation sought views on eligibility, the purpose of the leave and notification details. No government response has been issued as yet. 

Single labour market enforcement
The aim of this body is to ensure that vulnerable workers are better informed of their rights and to support businesses in compliance. The Government of the day consulted on this body in 2019 but this Government has yet to respond.

Payment of tips and service charges
The Bill provides that all tips and service charges go to workers and the distribution be supported by a statutory code.

For more information

For further information in relation to any of the above, please contact your relevant ACS contact or Jackie Morris.