At the end of 2018, it was reported that employees are set to get new protections as the government announced the ‘largest upgrade in workers’ rights for over 20 years’, but what will this ‘upgrade’ change? And, how could it affect you? That’s what I’ll outline below.
What is the Good Work Plan?
The government’s policy paper, the ‘Good Work Plan’, was published in December 2018 and has been described as “the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years” – changes will be implemented by 6th April 2020. The Good Work Plan is a response to the Taylor Review which was published in February 2018.
The government’s strategy is broken into three main themes:
- Fair and decent work
- Clarity for employers and workers
- Fairer enforcement.
April 2020 will be here sooner than you think! Are you prepared for the forthcoming changes? If not, our award-winning employment department will be able to get you up to scratch with the biggest work place reform of the 21st Century.
What New Legislation Will Be Implemented?
Employees will have more rights to request a stable contract after 26 weeks of continuous service. The government’s aim is to try and provide more protection to those who are on irregular or zero hour contracts.
Written Statement of Terms:
The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378) will come into force on the 6th April 2020. The regulations amend the Employment Rights Act (ERA) 1996 to give all workers the right to a written statement of terms under section 1 of the ERA 1996 not just employees.
- Currently the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that within the first two months of employment the employer must provide an employee with a written statement of terms. However, from 6th April 2020, an employer must provide an employee with their written statement of terms on or before their first day of employment.
- Further information must be included and given to the employee in the written statement of terms, including:
- The days of the week the worker is required to work, whether the working hours may be variable, and how any variation will be determined
- Any paid leave to which the worker is entitled
- Details of all remuneration and benefits
- Any probationary period
- Any training entitlement provided by the employer, including whether any training is mandatory and/or must be paid for by the worker
Breaking continuity of service will be extended from a gap of one week to four weeks. The purpose being to stop employer’s dismissing and reengaging employees immediately without being at risk of giving the employee full employment rights e.g. unfair dismissal, statutory maternity pay or statutory paternity pay.
The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/724) made on the 28th March 2019 will come into force on the 6th April 2020. The regulations will remove the Swedish Derogation provision set out in Regulations 10 and 11 of the Agency Worker Regulations 2010.
- Currently, agency workers are entitled to receive the same level of pay as a permanent worker after 12 weeks of continuous service, unless they opt out of this right and choose a guaranteed level of pay, known as the Swedish Derogation provision.
- The government has stated that, due to the high rate of employment, it is rare for agency workers to have gaps.
- As of the 6th April 2020, the regulation will provide that all agency workers will have a right to pay parity after 12 weeks.
- By no later than the 30th April 2020, agencies must provide agency workers whose existing contracts contain a Swedish Derogation provision with a written statement advising that, with effect from April 2020, those provisions will no longer apply.
- Agency workers will also be able to assert rights under the new regulations; protecting agency workers from detriment and unfair dismissal.
The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/725) will come into force from the 6th April 2020. The requirement will be enforced by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate.
From April 2020, all employment businesses will be required to provide agency work-seekers with a Key Information Document containing prescribed information, including:
- The type of contract
- Minimum expected rate of pay
- How they will be paid and by whom
- Any deductions or fees
- Any non-monetary benefits they be entitled to
- Any entitlement to annual leave and payment
Holiday Pay Reference Period:
- Regulation 16 of the Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998 will be amended. The amendment will increase the reference period for determining an average week’s pay (for the purposes of calculating holiday pay) from 12 weeks to 52 weeks, or the number of complete weeks for which the worker has been employed.
- The aim of the government is to ensure that workers, who do not have a regular pattern throughout the year, are not disadvantaged by having to take their holiday at a quiet time of the year when their weekly pay might be lower.
To request workplace discussions about topics such as redundancy proposals, currently a minimum of 10% of the workforce is required to agree. However, this will be reduced to 2%, which could have an impact on smaller businesses (must have at least 15 employees).
What Should You Do?
- Review your current terms and conditions, prepare and identify any changes which will need to be made.
- Review your staff handbook.
- Assess your workforce. Do you use agency workers or do you have individuals working on zero hours contracts?
- Ensure those who are responsible for recruitment and employees are aware and trained on the changes.
- Seek advice to help you understand the forthcoming changes.
Let Us Keep You Up-to-Date
This shake-up of employee rights in the workplace will impact every employer in the country, to some extent. If you would like to prepare ahead of the proposed changes being implemented, please contact our employment law solicitors for advice.
Alternatively, if you’re an individual, who would like to learn more about employee rights and responsibilities, our employee law team could help. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are always happy to discuss your concerns.