On 21 June 2017, the Queen attended the Houses of Parliament to deliver the Queen’s Speech, and officially open the next session of Parliament following the general election on 8 June 2017.
The policies will be debated in the House of Lords and House of Commons over the next five days before the process of introducing legislation begins.
Below is a round-up of the key announcements that have a bearing on employee benefits:
- The National Insurance Contributions Bill will legislate for the national insurance contribution (NICs) changes that were presented in the Spring Budget 2016 and Autumn Statement 2016. The legislation will not relate to Class 4 contributions.
- The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill will be implemented to create a single, statutory body responsible for all public financial guidance, including the provision of debt advice, money guidance, and pension guidance. This single body will replace the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service, and Pension Wise in order to reduce duplication and improve efficiency. Under this Bill, regulatory responsibility for the claims management sector will be transferred to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with new powers issued to enable a cap on the fees charged by claims management firms, and a more robust authorisation process for new firms entering the market to be implemented.
- The government will consider reforms to mental health legislation. The government will also consider how best to ensure that individuals with mental ill health are treated fairly and are protected from discrimination, and that employers are fulfilling their responsibilities effectively.
- The national living wage will increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020. After 2020, the national living wage will continue to increase.
- The government has committed to ensuring that employment law and employee rights are taken seriously. This will take into account Matthew Taylor’s review of working practices, commissioned in October 2016, which will analyse modern employment practices and provide understanding on whether working rights need to be updated. The report is due to be published in the near future.
- The government will continue to tackle the gender pay gap following the introduction of the mandatory gender pay gap reporting regulations in April 2017.
- The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will provide for the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers across the UK, as well as extend compulsory motor insurance to cover automated vehicles.
- The Civil Liability Bill will be implemented to combat compensation culture, and reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims by banning offers to settle claims without the support of medical evidence. A new fixed compensation tariff for whiplash injuries with a duration of up to two years will also be introduced. These measures aim to reduce motor insurance premiums.
- The Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill will provide flexible working arrangements for regular service personnel to support talent attraction and retention, workforce diversity, and help personnel to balance their family responsibilities and lifestyle aspirations. This will include forms of part-time service and limited geographical employment, as well as more provisions for staff returning from special leave, such as maternity, shared parental or adoption leave.