Sir Terry Leahy, The Grocer's retailer power player, is off the starting blocks before anyone else yet again.

Just a day after the new coalition government, in its five-year Programme for Government last month, proposed setting a minimum price at which retailers could sell alcohol, he came out in full support. But with speculation that he may quit in 2012 to possibly take up a position in government, I wonder whether he will be so quick to defend the raft of employer-based initiatives outlined in that same document.

In total I found some 20 policies that had a direct impact for employers and employees, from banking bonuses to encouraging the creation of a Troops To Teachers programme for ex-service personnel. But of top interest to food businesses, big and small, will be those related to tax, pay, pensions and employment legislation.

Business leaders including Sainsbury's Justin King, Diageo's Paul Walsh and Sir Stuart Rose will be delighted that the government "will protect jobs by stopping the proposed jobs tax". All the above incurred Labour's wrath when they joined other CEOs in signing a pre-election letter against the planned national insurance rise.

Employers will also be delighted that the coalition is to review employment and workplace laws for employers and employees, "to ensure they maximise flexibility for both parties while protecting fairness and providing the competitive environment required for enterprise to thrive". Even the apolitical Sir Terry has been known to moan about red tape.

Less welcome to some, though, will be the Tory win on immigration. It may be an emotive subject for the British public, but an annual cap on non-EU economic migrants admitted to the UK will reduce the pool of workers. Luckily for those in agriculture, European legislation prevents such a cap on countries such as Poland and Portugal. Another contentious area is the default retirement age. A review will set the date for when the state pension age starts to rise to 66, but industry is generally pleased that employers will have time to adjust to the change.

Other policies include support for the national minimum wage, measures to end workplace discrimination and extending to all employees the right to request flexible working. No doubt I will be examining these further in this column when more detail is available after June's emergency budget.

Until then I echo Matthew Goodman, head of policy at the Forum of Private Business, when he says the challenge now is for the government to translate these intentions into real, practical changes without creating more bureaucracy and cost.

Siân Harrington is editor of Human Resources magazine.