Queen's speech - summary for employers

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03 / 6 / 2014 4.49pm

The government has announced its legislative agenda for the year ahead, in the Queen's Speech at the state opening of Parliament. The Queen delivered 15 new bills, 12 of which will be presented to the Parliament over the next year.

A number of NHS workforce related issues were announced and a brief summary of them is detailed below.

Compensation "claw-back"

The government announced that it intends to introduce new legislation to mandate the recovery of compensation, including redundancy  payments, across the public sector when an individual takes new employment in the same public sub-sector (e.g. NHS or local government) within 12 months of receiving a compensation payment. These proposals aim to introduce a common position on “claw-back” of compensation payments across the public sector.

The recovery provisions would apply to individuals earning over £100,000, with some tapering for those earning under this amount. The amount that can be clawed back would decline over time on a pro rata basis. Additional legal provisions will require the individual to notify their previous employer that they will need to repay redundancy compensation. Failure to do so or to prevent money being repaid could result in the individual being subject to civil sanctions and potentially being dismissed. 

The government will consult on the details of how these proposals are implemented before taking any final decisions on the content of the legislation. We will provide further information when it is available and seek your views and issues in relation to the NHS, once the consultation document has been published.

Pensions

The Speech also contained an announcement on changes to private pension markets. In the main, this will have little impact on the NHS Pension Scheme. Where it may become applicable in the future is for those employees who are ineligible to join the NHS Pension Scheme and need to be automatically enrolled in an alternative provider scheme. For those employees, employers will have the additional option of a collective defined contribution scheme when they become available. We will be reviewing further information as it is released and will keep you up to date on relevant developments

Other announcements made by the Queen in her speech that may be of interest to employers include:

  • An increase in personal tax allowance and a freeze on fuel duty
  • Increased penalties for employers who fail to pay minimum wage and an action to tackle abuse of zero-hours contracts
  • An increase in apprenticeship placements to 2 million by the end of Parliament
  • An introduction of a married couples tax allowance
  • Free childcare for disadvantaged children up to two years old
  • Support with childcare costs for working families

We were expecting an announcement on the Regulation of Health and Social Care Professionals Bill following the Law Commission’s review of professional regulation in April but this did not appear in the Speech. The Law Commission has said that that their proposed reforms “aim to sweep away the out-dated and inflexible decision-making processes associated with the current legislation.” The Department of Health has indicated that this issue continues to be a priority and is committed to legislation when Parliamentary time allows.

We will continue to keep you informed as further details of the bills emerge.

 

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