Government Publishes Good Work Plan

In what has been hailed by the government as ‘the largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights’, the Good Work Plan’ was announced just before Christmas.

The plan comes as a result of the Matthew Taylor Good Work Review and we’ve outlined the key proposals for you below.

What is the Good Work Plan?

The legislation announced will aim to:

  • change rules on continuity of employment, so that a break of up to four weeks (currently one week) will not interrupt continuity
  • close a loophole by repealing the Swedish derogation – which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts
  • extend the right to a day one written statement of rights to workers, to include detail on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave
  • quadruple maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000
  • extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to
  • lower the threshold required for a request to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%
  • legislate to streamline the employment status tests so they are the same for employment and tax purposes, and to avoid employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed legislate to streamline the employment status tests so they are the same for employment and tax purposes, and to avoid employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed
  • impose a ban on employers making deductions from staff tips (presumably just by extending the existing unlawful deduction laws to cover tips, although the paper does not say this)

Clarification of Employment Status

Legislation to clarify employment status is, of course, welcome, however it is still difficult to establish clear definitions which are better than those we currently have. Nobody knows how to do that, and the government has simply said that detailed proposals will be published in due course.

We will, of course, keep you updated as these details are announced.

Zero Hour Contracts

Zero hours were addressed, albeit in a more limited manner than some many groups had hoped for. The government proposes a right to request a specific working pattern for those who do not have one, after 26 weeks on a non-fixed pattern.

Presumably this right will be similar to the right to request flexible working, i.e. a series of procedural requirements an employer must follow but - broadly - considerable discretion for the employer to refuse, with very limited financial penalties if breached. However, the Good Work Plan gives no details of what enforcement mechanism is proposed.

Key Dates

The following statutory instruments were laid out by the government they day after the announcement of the plan.

The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 was laid before parliament on the 17th December and will come into force on 6 April 2020 and:

  • provides that the written statement of employment particulars must be given from day one of employment
  • changes the rules for calculating a week's pay for holiday pay purposes, increasing the reference period for variable pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks

The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2018 abolishes the Swedish Derogation for agency workers. It also comes into force on 6 April 2020.

The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 extends the right to a written statement to workers (previously employees), increases penalties for aggravated breaches of employment law, and lowers the percentage required for a valid employee request for the employer to negotiate an agreement on informing and consulting its employees.

 

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.