Workers’ rights ‘nowhere to be seen’ in Queen’s speech

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Key promises to protect workers have been left out of the Queen's Speech, Labour has accused the government.

The Queen’s speech is the chance for the government to share its priorities for the coming months. But in the 11 May speech, there was no mention of the forthcoming Employment Bill, and changes it would usher, which were included in the last Queen’s speech in 2019.

The Queen has outlined the government's priorities for the year ahead. Photograph: Youtube

Absent changes included making flexible working the default unless employers have ‘good reason’ not to do so – one of the promises in the 2019 speech. There was no mention of the new enforcement body, which government has said it would create to tackle labour exploitation and workplace discrimination.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer commented: “For too long, millions of people across Britain have been working longer and for lower pay.

“But where was the Employment Bill we were promised in the last Queen’s Speech, and repeatedly promised by Ministers? Nowhere to be seen.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said the speech should have addressed insecure work which many of the UK’s key workers in retail, care, and delivery have been facing during the Pandemic.

“We need action now to deal with the scourge of insecure work – not more dithering and delay,” she said.

But Lucy Thorpe, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation, welcomed reforms to the health and social care system, contained in the Speech.

"There is potential to develop a real focus on preventative mental health work, co-ordinated locally and serving communities' needs,” she said.

“Getting public mental health right will improve people's mental health and help to prevent people from reaching crisis point, also reducing costs to the NHS.”

She said there was more work to make preventative mental health work ‘the norm’.

Queen’s speech 2021



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