Workplace rights: Labour law outlook

Will Gordon Brown's premiership usher in a new era for employment law and labour relations? Trade union barons will be flexing their muscles in preparation for extracting one or two Old Labour concessions as payback for funding his election campaign kitty. But for now, it's business as usual. The legislative programme for the next parliamentary session includes an Employment Simplification Bill, to contain measures already under development by the DTI (now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) under the PM's predecessor. This will replace the reviled statutory dismissal and grievance procedures introduced in 2004 with measures to promote informal workplace dispute resolution and streamline the employment tribunal system. The Bill is also likely to strengthen enforcement of the national minimum wage, one of Tony Blair's flagship reforms. But the most significant developments of the past 10 years have perhaps been driven by Europe, including laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, religion and age. EU employment policy has few major proposals in the pipeline - which probably means a less radical UK employment policy agenda for the foreseeable future.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors - e-mail:

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