The Queen’s speech at the state opening of Parliament yesterday outlined the Government’s priorities for the coming Parliamentary year which included two key bills of particular importance for employers, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Children and Families Bill. However, there was no mention of a proposal to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees. It is hoped that the response to the Modern Workplaces consultation which was launched last year and which is due out next week might shed some light on the Government’s proposals in this area.
In summary, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill and the Children and Families Bill will:
It was stated that the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would "create the right conditions for economic recovery" and would also "reduce regulatory burdens and improve business and consumer confidence".
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented as follows “On balance, business will welcome some of the government's proposed legislative measures, but express serious reservations about others”. Furthermore, he stated that "Positive steps such as reform to employment tribunals and red tape reductions could be undermined by complex new burdens around shared parental leave, for example. Ministers could have been bolder." It will therefore be interesting to see quite how far the above proposals go in practice.