Proposed Legislation includes a new employment bill, a points-based immigration system for skilled workers, flexible working and a national skills fund
During the State Opening of Parliament in December, the Queen outlined a comprehensive list of the new government’s proposed legislation including a new employment bill, a points-based immigration system for skilled workers, flexible working and a national skills fund.
The proposed employment bill promises to protect and enhance workers’ rights when the UK leaves the EU. The government is also set to create a new single enforcement body to protect workers’ rights. Workers would also have the right to request a more stable contract. Flexible working would also be default, unless employers have a good reason not to allow this (this is subject to consultation).
The recruitment industry has reacted to the announcement.
Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said, “We hope the government’s employment bill will incentivise business compliance and increase fairness and flexibility in work. Two way flexibility, that supports businesses and workers’ choices, is vital to a fair and productive labour market. The challenge ahead is to ensure that this works for all parties.”
“The government’s recognition of the importance of all people being able to retrain is welcome,” Hadley continued. “Recruitment professionals are in a unique position to facilitate career transitions and progression, and to provide the latest insight into how skills needs are evolving. We look forward to ensuring that the National Skills Fund works for employers and workers alike.”
Tania Bowers, General Counsel at The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), also commented, “While it was confirmed that measures will be brought forward to encourage gig workers to request a “more predictable contract”, our members are keen to understand whether this right will be extended to non-permanent agency workers, who by their nature are flexible.”
“We welcome the introduction of a National Skills Fund. However, while a commitment to ‘growing our own’ talent will help to mitigate against talent gaps in the future, in the interim access to skilled professionals from Europe and beyond must be maintained,” Bowers said.
“While today’s speech underlined a commitment to a ‘modern, fair, points-based immigration system’, Tier 2 Visas will continue to require a job offer. APSCo maintains that there must be a dedicated visa route as part of the future skills-based immigration system, through which highly skilled contractors from overseas can come to the UK and support British businesses. The abolition of the previous cap on numbers under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas coupled with a new fast-track immigration scheme for top scientists and researchers, however, should help alleviate skills shortages in some of the most talent-short sectors,” Bowers continued.
Bowers also called for a rethink to incoming changes related to IR35, and added that APSCo believes it should be delayed ‘pending a further impact review and completion of an assessment on employment status.’
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