Good Work PlanMar 21, 2019
In December, the Government published the Good Work Plan. It announces their plans to reform employment laws following the Matthew Taylor report.
The Government’s stated commitment is not only to maintain workers’ rights as we leave the EU, but to enhance them. A summary of the proposals contained in the plan that runs to some 62 pages is as follows:
- Employees and workers who work variable hours each week will, after 26 weeks’ service, be able to request greater security in their working hours. It looks like it will be a right to request, that the employer will have to consider (like a flexible working request) but not a right to have fixed hours. Zero hours contracts will, it seems, not be abolished.
Our view: this may be a sensible compromise.
- Continuity of service which is important to be able to claim unfair dismissal, or be entitled to a redundancy payment is currently broken by 1 week’s gap in service. This will be extended to 4 weeks.
Our view: this will help prevent abuse of the current system by some bad employers which is good.
- Agency workers can agree to give up their rights to be paid equally to permanent staff after 12 weeks’ service in return for being paid between assignments. This is known as the Swedish derogation. Not surprisingly this is being abused to the detriment of many workers. The Swedish derogation will be abolished on 6 April 2020.
Our view: a good move.
- Gratuities and tips, some employers are still making deductions from gratuities and tips intended for their staff. This will be banned.
Our view: about time.
- The Information and Consultation Regulations 2004 give employees in organisations that employ between 15 and 2500 employees the right to make a request to be informed or consulted if at least 10% of the employees support the request. The threshold will be reduced to 2% although the 15 employee minimum will remain in place.
Our view: probably won’t make much difference in practice.
- Employment status is a conundrum in that we currently have employees, workers and self-employed. The demarcation between each is often less than certain. For example, it’s currently possible for someone who is a worker for employment law purposes to be either employed or self-employed for tax purposes. The Government will produce detailed proposals to make sure that the tax and employment rights tests are the same.
Our view: good luck with that!
The Government also accepts that Matthew Taylor’s conclusion that ‘control’ by employers as to what workers do, should be more important than the right to appoint a substitute, when it comes to deciding whether someone is a worker or self employed. The Government will legislate to prevent the abuse of the right of substitution.
Our view: a good idea in theory but how will it work in practice?
- A written statement of terms of employment have to be given to an employee who has worked for 1 month within 2 months of the start date. The Government will make it law to give employees and workers a written statement on the first day of their employment/work. The information required of a written statement will also be expanded. This change will take effect on 6 April 2020.
Our view: this is an excellent and long overdue change to give more clarity to employment relationships; however, it may create more of an administrative burden for businesses.
- Holiday pay, the reference period for calculating holiday pay will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This change will take effect on 6 April 2020.
Our view: a good idea as it should give a more accurate figure.