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Farrer & Co | Workers on company boards: The lady is for turning

Back in July Jonathan Eley noted the wide range of possible changes to employment law heralded by Theresa May's arrival in No 10 Downing Street, perhaps the most headline-grabbing of which was worker representation on company boards. Clearly four months is a long time in politics, particularly in this most eventful of years, because on Monday in her speech to the CBI the Prime Minister back-tracked on the policy.

She said that there would be no mandating of companies to appoint workers or consumers to their boards and that "it will be a question of finding the model that works" for each company. She highlighted a range of options such as "advisory councils or panels" that could work within existing company board structures.

This seems to be an area where the Prime Minister has decided to row back and perhaps save political capital for dealing with the many contentious issues lying ahead. It comes at a time when the government appears particularly keen to stress its pro-business credentials in the face of much uncertainty over Brexit.

There is of course plenty of scope for further policy announcements on employment issues further down the line, not least with Brexit, the independent review being led by Matthew Taylor of the RSA into modern employment practices and the government's forthcoming green paper on corporate governance. Indeed in her speech, Theresa May made clear that the green paper will address executive pay amongst other issues.

We will be keeping a watching brief to see what emerges over the coming months but perhaps the lesson from this week is to remember that announcing a radical policy is one thing, but actually implementing it is quite another.

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