In December 2018, the Government announced a number of proposals, known as the Good Work Plan, aimed at improving the working conditions for hundreds of workers and employees in England and Wales.
Based on the recommendations produced by Matthew Taylor in the 2018 Taylor Report, the Good Work Plan is intended to be the “vision for the future of the UK labour market.”
While the formal introduction of the Good Work Plan has been delayed, what do employers need to know to be ready for its implementation.
Right to request a predictable and stable contract
Instead of choosing to ban zero-hour contracts, the Good Work Plan proposes a right to request a more fixed working pattern of work for those who do not have one.
This new right will be available to employees with more than 26 weeks of service and is intended to give greater certainty to workers about their position and guaranteed hours.
It is not yet clear how the Government intends to enforce this right, but the mechanism behind it is likely to be similar to the process for requesting flexible work.
Under the Good Work Plan from April 2020, employers will have to provide a written statement of terms and conditions to workers from the first day of employment, instead of within the current framework of two months after the date that employment begins.
Additional details will need to be included within the statement such as the right to any paid leave (for example paternity or maternity leave), any benefits and the duration of any probationary period.
The right to receive a written statement will also be extended to workers, as well as full or part time employees.
The Good Work Plan will look to extend the length of the gap in employment which has the effect of breaking continuous service from one week to four weeks. This will replace the current 12 week reference period.
Employers will be prohibited from making deductions from staff tips, however, it is not yet clear how this will be properly enforced considering the nature of gratuities.
A 52-week reference period will be introduced to determine holiday pay, which will help ensure that workers are not prevented from benefiting from their full holiday entitlement nor limited in choosing when to take holiday.
After 12 weeks of service an agency work will be entitled to receive the same rate of pay as a permanent worker.
The Good Work Plan intends to close a legal loophole, known as the Swedish derogation, which allows employers to pay agency workers less than permanent staff.
Originally introduced to allow agency workers to opt for lower but continuous pay, it has instead been used by some employers to pay workers less.
Employment businesses will also be required to provide all agency workers with a key facts page outlining their basic terms.
The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations provide a framework to encourage long-term information and consultation arrangements between employees and their employers by providing a mechanism for employees’ views to be considered.
However, under the Good Work Plan that the threshold needed for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements will be lowered from 10 per cent to two per cent of employees.
If the proposals go ahead the maximum level of penalty an Employment Tribunal can impose upon an employer for an aggravated breach of employment law will increase from £5,000 to £20,000 and Tribunals will be under the additional obligation to consider the use of sanctions for repeated breaches.
The Government will introduce legislation to streamline the employment status tests for employment and tax purposes.
Alongside this, it will also commission independent research so that any legislation brought forward to address the difficulties involved in determining employment status, which should help those with uncertain employment status – particularly those working in more casual roles.