A stripped-down Queen's Speech last week revealed that the government would press on with much of its employment law agenda for 2009 despite the economic crisis.
Measures to increase workplace equality, reform the welfare-to-work process and boost skills all featured.
Immediately afterwards, employment relations minister Pat McFadden confirmed that the planned extension of flexible working rights would also go ahead.
The draft programme had been rewritten in a bid to focus on tackling economic woes, but 2009 will still see the following legislation passed through Parliament.
The Equality Bill: diversity, transparency and 'positive discrimination'
According to the draft Bill:
- Tribunals will be given power to recommend that organisations change their equality policies
- Employers will be able to choose a job candidate from an under-represented group over an equally qualified 'majority' candidate
- Public sector employers - and private firms bidding for state work - will have to publish statistics on gender pay differences, as well as the numbers of ethnic minority and disabled people employed
- Public sector bodies will have a new equality duty
"Procurement can be an effective lever to improve equality, but the focus should be on achieving outcomes."
John Cridland, deputy director-general, CBI
"Forcing employers to recruit more people from minority groups may lead to tensions in the workplace."
Sam Mercer, director of workplace, Business in the Community
The welfare reform Bill: employability training and back-to-work support
A White Paper is expected next week. Plans include:
- People on incapacity benefit to be assessed by doctors on what they can and can't do
- Back-to-work support for disabled people who could re-enter employment
- Community work for those unemployed for two years and abusing the system
- A demanding programme of employability training after six months on Jobseekers Allowance
- 'Lie detector' technology to catch benefits cheats
"This will help people be more job-ready and more likely to be in work when the economy picks up."