The Government has outlined its legislative programme for the next session of Parliament. Among the 45 new Bills to be debated over the next 18 months are several pieces of legislation that will impact upon employment law.

Asylum and Immigration Bill

This Bill will prescribe civil penalties for employers of illegal workers. It is also proposed to introduce an offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker.

Corporate Manslaughter Bill

One of the more controversial pieces of legislation, this Bill will enable the conduct of senior management to be taken into account when prosecuting an organisation for manslaughter.

Equality Bill

Introduces a Combined Equality and Human Rights Commission (CEHR), which will assume the functions previously performed by the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. The CEHR will have the freedom to decide which cases it supports rather than being bound by statutory criteria and will be able to bring proceedings in its own name. This body will also be able to conduct inquiries into named bodies or sectors.

Parental Rights Bill

Among the proposals outlined in the Parental Rights Bill is an extension of the period of statutory maternity pay from 26 weeks to 39 weeks from 2007 and allowing maternity leave to be transferable between mother and father.

A consultation paper is also anticipated on an extension of the right to flexible working arrangements to other groups with care responsibilities.

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