There’s been plenty of talk about how Brexit will affect workers’ rights since Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won the December general election.
Some of the debate was intensified after a section on protecting those rights was removed from the government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill when it went before the Commons in the week before Christmas.
But at the same time, there was a raft of measures outlined in the Queen’s Speech which should give us a reasonable picture of where employment rights for workers are headed over the next few years.
The first thing to say is that none of the protections guaranteed under our relationship with the EU will change in 2020. That’s because even if Brexit is triggered at the end of this month, there is a transition period which runs up until the end of the year.
After that, of course, it could be a different picture, which is where some of the hints dropped in the Queen’s Speech are so intriguing. A new Employment Bill proposed by the new Government includes a number of measures which could strengthen workers’ rights.
As part of the Good Work Plan, workers will be given the right to request a more stable contract, with defined working days and guaranteed minimum number of hours.
There will also be extended redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination, improved leave for neonatal care and an extra week of leave for unpaid carers.
The Government has also said it will create a new single enforcement body to protect workers’ rights and make the process of challenging any alleged breaches more straightforward.
There’s good news on the way if you work in hospitality, or any industry where tips make up an additional income stream. New legislation should ensure that companies have to follow a statutory code in distributing tips and cannot just make up their own rules.
There will also be an increase in the National Living Wage, the National Insurance threshold will rise to £9,500 and a new immigration bill will introduce the much-talked-about points system similar to that used in Australia.
The Pensions Regulator will also be given new powers to stop your company bosses doing anything which might jeopardise any defined benefit scheme at your workplace – with big fines and prison sentences for those who transgress.
And there is also good news if you fancy a career in nursing, primary care or the police force, with large numbers of new recruits likely to be appointed over the course of the next few years.
As ever, the devil of much of these plans will lie in the detail, which should start to become more clear as the Government sets about its policy agenda in the wake of Brexit.
For a full appraisal of where that might leave you, click the button for a free consultation with Shropshire’s best HR consultancy.