Queen's speech

Queen’s Speech 2017: Changes to company boards absent

Queen’s Speech 2017: Changes to company boards absent

A promise in the Conservative Party’s manifesto to increase employee representation on boards appears to have fallen by the wayside following the Queen’s Speech. Practitioners believe this indicates employee representation is no longer a ‘legislative priority’ with the government instead choosing to focus on implementing increases to the National Living Wage (NLW). The Queen’s Speech did make reference to ‘enhancing rights and protections in the workplace’ which lawyers suggest alludes to the review of employment practices being undertaken by Matthew Taylor. It is thought this means the government plans to act on the report’s recommendations.


Company boards

In the Conservative manifesto, the government had indicated the law would be changed to require listed companies to:

  • nominate a director from the workforce
  • create a formal employee advisory council or assign responsibility for employee representation to a designated non-executive director


Similarly, Lister explains nothing in the Queen’s Speech indicated the government planned to press ahead with reforms to boardroom remuneration, including:

  • legislation to make executive pay packages subject to strict annual votes by shareholders
  • requiring listed companies to publish the ratio of executive pay to broader workforce pay


Gender pay-gap reporting

Before the election, the Conservatives appeared to indicate that they might extend the new gender pay gap reporting regime. The Queen’s Speech made reference to ‘make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap’, however, it now does not appear that any changes to the regulations are planned. Similarly, pre-election rumours that the government might extend the law to mandatory race pay gap reporting seem very unlikely to transpire, although it remains possible this will be introduced on a voluntary basis.


National Living Wage

The Queen’s Speech did confirm the commitment in the Conservative manifesto to increase the NLW, which is essentially a premium on top of the national minimum wage (NMW) for workers aged 25 or over. The NLW will be increased to 60% of median income by 2020 and then subsequently raised in line with median earnings. However, there is no mention of extending the increases to the other rates of the NMW.



Protecting employee rights

The government said it will ‘seek to enhance rights and protections in the modern workplace’, a statement which is reference to the Matthew Taylor Review of Employment Practices, which is expected shortly. This is in line with the Conservative manifesto, which promised to ‘act to ensure that the interests of employees on traditional contracts, the self-employed and those people working in the ‘gig’ economy are all properly protected’.

The apparent emphasis placed on the Review by the Queen’s Speech gives the strongest indication yet that the government intends to act on its recommendations. However, without any actual legislation planned to implement these recommendations it is questionable quite what impact they will have.



For advice & guidance on UK legislation, such as discussed in this article, please contact HPC. We are a UK leading specialist in Employment law, HR and Health and Safety Services. Contact us via email through Support@HighPerformanceConsultancy.com or are direct line on 0844 800 5932.

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