On 17 December 2018, the government published the “Good Work Plan”, which it has described as “the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years”. The publication sets out further detail on its response to the Taylor Review, which was a review carried out into working practices in the UK. The government has also published draft legislation which gives us an indication of the when some (but not all) of the changes are likely to come into force.
The main changes set out in the Government’s plan include:
- Employment Status – legislating to improve the clarity of the employment status tests, to reflect the reality of modern working relationships and developing an online tool to enable people to determine their employment status more easily. The government has provided very little detail as to how intends on tackling this complex and widely litigated area.
- Statement of Terms and Conditions – Changes to the requirements relating to the written statement of terms and conditions. Most notably, the statement will need to be provided to both workers and employees (currently just employees) by no later than the first day of employment and will need to provide further information in addition to that which is currently required. The additional information includes, for example: how long a job is likely to last, eligibility for paid leave, details relating to any probationary period and specific days and times of work. Regulations have been published that are intended to bring these changes into effect in April 2020.
- Continuous Employment – changing the rules on continuity of employment to provide that a break in employment of up to four weeks between contracts (currently one week) will not interrupt continuity. Draft legislation has been published which is intended to take effect in April 2020.
- Calculation of Holiday Pay – The reference period for calculating holiday pay for a worker on variable hours will be increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This change is intended to help prevent workers with variable working patterns from being disadvantaged financially by having to take their holiday at a quiet time of year when their weekly pay is likely to be lower.
- Agency Workers: Swedish Derogation – Abolishing the Swedish derogation principle set out in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain specified circumstances. Draft legislation has been published which is intended to take effect in April 2020
- Agency Workers: Key Facts Page – Employment businesses will be required to provide agency workers with a Key Facts Page, setting out information about their contract type, the minimum expected rate of pay, how they will be paid, who they will be paid by and any deductions or fees that will be taken.
- Employment Tribunal Penalties – The penalty for aggravated breaches of employment law will be increased from £5,000 to £20,000.
- Naming Non-Paying Employers– As of 18 December 2018, the Government provides for the publication of the name of employers that fail to pay tribunal awards.
- Tips and Deductions – Legislating to prevent employers from taking administrative fees or making any other deductions from staff tips.
- Protection for Workers Without Fixed Working Patterns – Providing a right for those working on a non- fixed working pattern to request a fixed working pattern after 26 weeks.
Whilst some have accused the government of overstating the extent of the reforms, they are nevertheless significant for employers of all sizes. We will wait with interest, for further information from the government regarding finer details and timelines.
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