No Employment Bill means no new flexible working legislation

Government set out its programme today but there was no Employment Bill which means there’ll be no new laws on flexible working and paternity leave

Houses of parliament in London


Campaigners and trades unions have expressed disappointment after the government did not include an Employment Bill in its new programme.

The Conservative administration set out its plans in today’s Queen’s Speech. But there was no Employment Bill in it. The government has talked of boosting workers rights in the aftermath of Brexit.

Campaigners had hoped an Employment Bill would provide an opportunity to update all sorts of measures including overhauling Shared Parental Leave and making the right to request flexible working a day one right.

Flexible working

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, said: “The Government have repeatedly promised ‘the biggest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation’ but today that promise has been dropped with no Employment Bill and nothing on measures to increase flexible working.

“We are at a pivotal point in the future of work in the UK, with remote working set to increase exponentially post-pandemic, new practices such as remote surveillance affecting millions and a crisis in self-employment.

“These new challenges require workers’ rights fit for the 21st century, including new rights on flexible working and a Right to Disconnect from work.

“The Government have missed the opportunity to show leadership and shape the future of work over the coming years, and it is workers who will pay the price.”

Right to disconnect

On International Women’s Day Equalities minister Liz Truss called for flexible working to become the norm. But the government of which she is a part seems not to have heeded her words.

And research published last month found employees would value a ‘right to disconnect’. This would allow them to set times of day when they could not be contacted by work. The issue has become more pressing with many workers finding the division between work and non-work time has blurred in the last year of working from home.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “The Government has rowed back on its promise boost to workers’ rights by not bringing forward its long overdue Employment Bill.”

The government has insisted it will draw up legislation ‘when the time is right’. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re committed to bringing forward an Employment Bill to protect and enhance workers’ rights as we build back better from the pandemic.”

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