News added on 17.12.2018

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Employment rights

Government publishes Good Work Plan to reform workplace rights

The government has published a new “Good Work Plan” alongside a press release outlining what it says is the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years. What changes to employment law are in the pipeline?

The government is to introduce new legislation to upgrade workers’ rights and this will include:

  • a day one right for all employees and workers (including casual and zero-hours workers) to receive a written statement of their rights, to include the current information already required in the written statement of employment particulars issued to employees but to also include the following additional mandatory contents: eligibility for sick leave and pay; details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave; the duration and contents of any probationary period; all remuneration (not just pay), including benefits in kind; and which specific days and times workers are required to work
  • a new right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of service, providing more financial security for those on flexible contracts
  • extension of the time required to break a period of continuous service from one week to four weeks, to make it easier for more employees to accrue employment rights
  • repeal of the “Swedish derogation” in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which is a legal loophole enabling some employers to pay agency workers less than their directly-recruited counterparts in certain circumstances
  • a requirement for employment businesses to provide agency workers with a “Key Facts Page” when they start work, including a clear breakdown of who pays them, and any costs or charges deducted from their wages
  • a ban on employers making deductions from workers’ tips, so that tips will go to workers in full
  • extension of the holiday pay reference period from twelve to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they’re entitled to
  • an increase in the maximum employment tribunal penalty for employers who have committed an aggravated breach of employment law from £5,000 to £20,000, and an obligation for employment tribunals to consider the use of sanctions where employers have lost a previous case on broadly comparable facts
  • the introduction of a new naming and shaming scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards
  • lowering of the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2% of employees.

The government has also said that it is committed to legislating to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of modern working relationships (and to avoid employers misclassifying employees/workers as self-employed) and to taking further action to ensure interns are being paid the national minimum wage if they’re doing the job of a worker.

In addition, the government is to take forward most of the recommendations made in the UK Labour Market Enforcement Strategy for 2018/19 to tackle the exploitation of low-paid workers. This will include:

  • bringing forward proposals in early 2019 for a new single labour market enforcement body to ensure vulnerable workers’ rights are properly enforced
  • more resources for the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and extension of its remit
  • new powers to impose penalties on employers who breach employment agency legislation like non-payment of wages
  • consulting on salaried hours works and salary sacrifice schemes to ensure national minimum wage rules don’t inadvertently penalise employers
  • bringing forward legislation to enforce underpayment of holiday pay for vulnerable workers.

New legislation is to be presented to Parliament covering a broad range of changes to employment law, including: a day one right for all workers to receive a written statement of their rights, a new right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract, extension of the time required to break a period of continuous service from one week to four weeks, repeal of the “Swedish derogation”, a requirement for employment businesses to provide agency workers with a “Key Facts Page” when they start work, a ban on employers making deductions from workers’ tips, extension of the holiday pay reference period from twelve to 52 weeks and lowering of the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2% of employees. It’s not yet clear what the timetable will be for these reforms.

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