Queen’s Speech: employers await 2009 agenda

The government is said to be re-writing its plans for next year to ensure Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech has the maximum impact on the economic crisis.

Since the Draft Queen’s Speech was announced in May, the credit crunch has tightened its grip on the UK, with banks being nationalised, unemployment soaring, and recession now imminent.

So business secretary Peter Mandelson is reported to be overseeing work to update the text of the final speech, which is essentially an agenda for legislation to be passed next year.

The draft Queen’s Speech revealed plans for employees to be given a legal right to request time off work for training.

Prime minister Gordon Brown said at the time: “It is not only a threat to prosperity, but unfair also, that adults – in work or looking for work – are denied the opportunity to get the training they need to advance their careers, or even the time needed to do a course.”

Other measures in the draft included:

  • Extending the right to request flexible working to parents of older children

  • A duty on the unemployed to have their skills needs assessed and to acquire skills

  • A renewed commitment to introducing legislation to boost the workplace rights of agency workers

  • An Equality Bill to make the UK’s discrimination legislative framework clearer.

Since then, however, the landscape has changed dramatically.

The government has secured a deal giving temporary workers equal rights to permanent staff after 12 weeks with an employer.

Mandelson has admitted he is listening to arguments from business groups that the flexible working extension should be delayed due to the economic crisis.

And a first draft of the Equality Bill has been laid before Parliament, with speculation growing it will be toughened up on Wednesday.

All eyes will now turn to Parliament on Wednesday to see what the Queen’s Speech will mean for employers in 2009.

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