Queen’s Speech: workplace equality, flexible working, welfare reform and skills all on the agenda

Measures to increase workplace equality, extend flexible working rights, reform the welfare-to-work process and boost skills featured in the Queen’s Speech this morning.

The Queen outlined the government’s legislative plans for 2009 in a short ceremonial speech to the House of Lords.

The draft programme was re-written in a bid to tackle the worsening economic crisis. But there was still room on the agenda for the Equality Bill, the Welfare Reform Bill and the Education and Skills Bill.

“A Bill will be brought forward to reform the welfare system, to improve incentives for people to move from benefits into sustained employment, and to provide greater support, choice and control for disabled people,” the Queen said.

“My government will bring forward a Bill to promote equality, fight discrimination and introduce transparency in the workplace to help address the difference in pay between men and women.”

The Queen added: “My government will bring forward a Bill to reform education, training and apprenticeships, to promote excellence in all schools, to improve local services for children and parents, and to provide a right for those in work to request time for training.”

The extension of the right to request flexible working patterns to parents with children up to the age of 16 will go ahead as planned in April. Some employer groups had argued that it should be postponed due to 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.

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