The government’s proposals to take forward recommendations from the Taylor Review have been published in the Good Work Plan and is dubbed as the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years. Effectively, these changes are intended to significantly change the landscape and provide workers with more employment law rights.
Below is a summary of the key proposals and subsequent actions which employers should be aware of.
Key Proposals of the Good Work Plan:
Extension of the Right to a Written Statement of Particulars of Employment
The current position is that a written statement of particulars has to be provided to employees within two months of their start date.
Under new legislation* the right to a written statement, setting out the basic terms of employment for all employees whose employment lasts for at least one month, will apply from day one. This right will come into force on 6 April 2020 and now includes workers. In addition to the current requirement to provide particulars, as detailed out in s.1 of the Employment Rights Act, the written statement must now also set out:
- The days of the week the worker is required to work, whether variable and how any variation will be determined
- Any paid leave entitlement
- Details of all remuneration and benefits
- Any probationary period; and
- Any training entitlement provided by the employer, including whether any training is mandatory and / or must be paid for by the worker.
*The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/731)
Increase in the Period Over Which Holiday Pay is Calculated
From 6 April 2020, the pay reference period for calculating the holiday pay of a worker who has irregular working hours will be increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.
The change aims to prevent workers losing out where their working hours are subject to fluctuations such as seasonal variations, or peaks in overtime. So, moving forward, employers will have to use a 52-week average for calculating holiday pay.
If a worker has been working for less than 52 weeks, their holiday pay calculation should be based on the total number of weeks they have worked.
Increase in the ‘Break of Service’ Period
Presently a break of one week or more is sufficient to cease the continuity of service. The Good Work Plan states that from 6 April 2020, the gap will increase to four weeks.
The aim of this is to enable employees with irregular working patterns to secure continuity of service.
It should be noted that this only applies where legislation does not preserve continuity for a lengthier period, e.g. for redundancy.
Increased Protection for Agency Workers
Agency workers will have the right to be provided with a Key Facts Page which includes; information on the type of contract, their rate of pay, who is responsible for paying it and any deductions or fees that will be taken.
There will also be an end to the ‘Swedish derogation’! Currently this allows workers who have a contract that provides for a minimum level of pay between assignments to be excluded from the right to comparable pay with permanent employees.
These changes apply from 6 April 2020.
Right to Request a ‘Stable’ Contract
There’s no date for this change yet but there is commitment from government to introduce a right for all employees and workers to request a more stable working pattern (subject to at least 26 weeks’ service).
Again, no date, but the government acknowledges the issue of employment status is tricky. There’s an indication that they will introduce a new test to identify employment status, with online tools to help employers correctly identify a person’s status.
New Protections for Gig Economy Workers
The Taylor Review recommended introducing higher National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage rates for hours that are not guaranteed as part of the contract, as well as alternative options to tackle low pay. However, following advice from the Low Pay Commission (LPC), the government will not be taking this forward. The LPC proposed a number of alternatives to address one-sided flexibility, which the government says will be subject to further consultation.
Enforcement of Vulnerable Workers’ Rights to Holiday Pay and Wider Review of Statutory Sick Pay
There will be a new state enforcement system for holiday pay. In the context of the Statutory Sick Pay reforms, the government will consider whether to make changes to the enforcement provisions.
Enforcement of Tribunal Awards and Increasing Tribunal Fines for Employers
The government will:
- Introduce a new “naming and shaming” scheme for employers that fail to pay tribunal awards and make it easier for successful claimants to enforce payment.
- Require tribunals to consider stronger punishments for employers that ignore previous tribunal judgments against them.
As well as the above, the government have already increased the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000 for ‘aggravated’ breaches of employment rights. This came into effect on 6 April 2019.