Government reforms (3): Queen’s speech

government reforms - elizabeth tower

The Queen’s Speech was delivered on 4 June 2014. The Government has made plans to introduce a number of bills that will affect employers and their staff. As the speech just outlines these plans we will have to update you in due course on the detail, but in the meantime here’s the basics:

  1. Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill:
  • tackle National Minimum Wage abuse by giving employers tougher penalties;
  • tackle abuse in zero-hour contracts;
  • introduce new measures to limit excessive redundancy payments for highly paid employees in the public sector, in particular by stopping them keeping their redundancy payment if, within a short period of time, they return to the same part of the public sector;
  • make childcare regulations more flexible to meet the needs of working families; and
  • strengthen rules on director disqualification.

The speech also mentioned the introduction of legislation that would “reduce delays in employment tribunals”, but no further information is given on this.

  1. National Insurance Contributions Bill
  • close loopholes which currently allow people from get around anti-avoidance rules involving offshore employment intermediaries and employment intermediaries facilitating false employment; and
  • simplify the collection of NICs paid by the self-employed.
  1. Private Pensions Bill

Plans to, amongst other things, introduce “collective schemes”, to pool risk between members, so potentially providing more stable pension outcomes.

  1. Childcare Payments Bill

This bill will introduce a new scheme for tax-free childcare.

  1. Apprenticeships

Plans announced to increase the total number of apprenticeship places to two million by the end of the Parliament, and to prioritise the growth of Higher Apprenticeships (degree level apprenticeships).