The government has published its much anticipated ‘Good Work Plan’ in response to the recommendations made in the Taylor Review, published in July 2017, which outlined 7 core principles aimed to achieve ‘fair and decent work with realistic scope for development and fulfilment’ for all UK workers.
The proposed reforms in the Good Work Plan will take forward 51 of the 53 recommendations made by the Taylor Review, and in some cases goes further than the review. These reforms seek to strengthen employment rights for workers, particularly those on atypical working arrangements, including:
- Extending, from one to four weeks, the period required to break continuous service. This will impact employers who engage workers on a casual basis as this reform will enable those workers to build up continuous service and gain access to greater employment rights.
- Creating a new right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract from their employer. Those working variable hours or zero-hours contracts will, upon completion of 26 weeks of service, be entitled to request a more fixed working pattern (be that by way of fixed days or hours) from their employer.
- Introducing legislation to facilitate the use of sanctions in the case of repeated breaches by the same employer and placing a greater onus on Employment Tribunal judges to consider the use of such sanctions.
- Introducing new law to determine employment status of workers and their eligibility for certain employment law rights.
Following publication of the Good Work Plan, the government has announced the first of the statutory instruments under which the following reforms will be implemented:-
- The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 comes into force on 6 April 2020 and will give all workers and employees a ‘day one’ right to a written statement of terms covering eligibility for sick leave and pay and their right to other types of paid leave. This also extends the holiday pay reference period so that holiday pay will now be calculated over a 52 week reference period instead of the current 12 week period. This may be a significant change for organisations with workers whose pay fluctuates (because of bonuses, overtime or commission) over the year. Ideally, the new calculation will help to even out any variations over a longer period which should give a more accurate holiday pay figure.
- The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2018, coming into force on 6 April 2020, repeals the Swedish Derogation giving agency workers the right to the same pay as their permanent counterparts.
- The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 introduces the reduction of the threshold for the right for employees to request to set up information and consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%, although the 15 employee minimum will still apply. This may result in employers receiving more requests. Under this new legislation, the maximum tribunal fines for employers for serious breaches of employment rights will be quadrupled from £5,000 to £20,000.
Graham Irons comments:
“The Good Work Plan moves a step closer to implementing the recommendations in the Taylor Review and the introduction of new legislation is a promising step in the right direction. However, it is yet to be confirmed when the remaining proposed reforms will be implemented and what obligations will be placed on employers as a result. It is hoped that any changes will provide greater certainty for both employers and workers but still maintain the current flexibility of modern working practices.”
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