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Queen's Speech 2012: pensions, parental leave and tribunal reform feature in the Government's outline for the year ahead


The Queen, at the State Opening of Parliament this morning, announced her Government would move forward on reform of state pensions and public sector pensions, as well as increasing parental leave and reforming employment tribunals.

Outlining the Government's legislative plans for the next session of Parliament, the Queen said: "Measures will be proposed to make parental leave more flexible, so both parents may share parenting responsibilities and balance work and family commitments."

On the day before thousands of public sector union members were set to strike over their pensions, the Queen confirmed: "Legislation will be introduced to reform public service pensions in line with the recommendations of the independent commission on public service pensions."

The speech has been designed to satisfy policy demands from both parts of the Coalition Government.

Joanne Segars, NAPF chief executive, said: “We are delighted by this confirmation of the Government’s commitment to a long-awaited, landmark reform.

“This is another big step towards a simpler, more generous state pension that no longer penalises people for saving. A new system will take millions out of means-tested benefits and will encourage people to take control of their own age by saving towards it.

“The NAPF has been calling for a single-tier state pension for many years. This is the much-needed foundation on which people can build their own savings, knowing that it pays to save. And it will help ensure that auto-enrolment is a success.

“We are all living longer, so it is inevitable that retirement ages move upwards to reflect that. The trade-off for working longer must be a better state pension come retirement.”

The Queen added: "The courts and tribunals service will be reformed to increase efficiency, transparency and judicial diversity."

The announcement around parental leave follows the publication of research this morning from the CIPD, urging the Government to extend the right to request flexible working in The Queen's Speech today.

Ben Willmott, CIPD head of public policy, said: "The CIPD has long been calling for the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, despite claims from some quarters that the legislation is burdensome for businesses. Similar concerns were raised over a decade ago about the plans to introduce the statutory right to request flexible working for parents. Those fears have proved unfounded – regardless of size of organisation."

Trade union Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “Tomorrow’s industrial action will build on the high level of anger that was on display during the 30 November strikes.

“This anger has been increased by the Government’s hardline insistence that public sector employees should work longer, pay more and receive less when they eventually retire.

“Our members believe that the Government is attacking their pensions as a means of helping reduce the budget deficit, which has been caused by a greedy City elite that has brought the economy to its knees. This is blatantly unfair."

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