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Move over 2019, we’re already looking at April 2020!

In December 2018, the widely-anticipated Good Work Plan was published, outlining the “Government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market”.

The Plan signals the Government’s intention to legislate in accordance with numerous recommendations originally made by the Taylor Review, which reviewed and critiqued the UK’s Modern Working Practices in 2017. The intention is that most of these changes will come in April 2020.

A NEW worker’s right to a written statement of terms (and an extension to the information that must be provided)
Currently, only employees are entitled to receive a written statement of rights and responsibilities within 2 months of starting work.

The Government intends to introduce legislation that will make this written statement a day one right and extend the right to workers. This written statement will also have to provide additional information than is currently required, including:-the likely length of the contract;

the notice required by the parties to terminate;

eligibility of sick leave, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave;

any probationary period;

remuneration, other than wages; and

the times and dates the worker must work.

Agency workers will also benefit from legislation that requires all employment businesses to provide a Key Facts Page.

A New worker’s right to request a more predictable and stable contract
The Taylor Review considered that whilst flexibility was a huge benefit to workers and employers alike, it was generally one-sided in favour of the employer and meant that workers could not plan for the future.

In light of this one-sided flexibility, it was suggested that workers should be given the right to request a more stable contract.

The Plan hints that this right may apply after 26 weeks’ service, and may include a formal request procedure which is designed to spur employers into giving more certainty into fixed hours or days.

Again, this new right will benefit agency workers in particular.

An EXTENSION of the period required to break continuity of an employment contract.
Currently, if an employee ceases work for an employer for one week, their continuity of service is broken. Continuity of service is vital for particular employment rights (e.g. Unfair Dismissal) which require certain periods of continuous employment.

The Plan intends to extend the break from one week to one month, and is intended to help establish continuity of service for those who work sporadically, such as agency workers. Such workers can often be sent away without work for a week, by users of agency workers, to avoid continuity of employment rights, such as statutory redundancy pay and the right not be unfairly dismissed.

Further legislation
The Government also plans to introduce legislation and proposals to:

introduce a “name and shame” scheme for employers who fail to pay tribunal awards on time;

raise the maximum limit of an aggravated breach of employment law penalty from £5,000 to £20,000 (possibly to arrive April 2019), and tackle repeated breaches;

launch an awareness-campaign to ensure that all workers are benefiting from paid entitlement to leave;

extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks; and

clarify Employment Status! Though detail on this is very thin.

My thoughts
The above are just some of the changes outlined in the Good Work Plan which are not likely to come into affect until late 2019 or even 2020.

The changes above will:-

place more of an onus on employers to ensure that items such as written statements of employment terms are delivered on or before day one to both employees and workers;

mean employers are likely to receive requests for more predictable and stable contracts and so policies and procedures will need to be set out on how employers intend to deal with these;

ensure that those working a more sporadic set of shifts will be more likely to be able to bring claims that have specific continuity of service requirements; and

put agency workers on more of a level playing field with permanent directly employed employees, something that the TUC have been campaigning for many years.

Nick Hobden Partner and Head of Employment – Thomson Snell & Passmore.

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