On 17 December 2018, the Good Work Plan was published, being the government’s response to the Taylor Review of Employment Practice from February. This is described by the government as the “biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years”.
The approach to these reforms is based on three main themes:
- Fair and Decent Work.
- Clarity for Employers and for Workers.
- Fairer Enforcement.
The main changes proposed are:
- A right for workers to request a more stable and predictable contract.
- Easier for casual staff to establish continuity of employment.
- Agency workers: abolition of Swedish Derogation and the Employment Agency Standard Inspectorate (EASI) to investigate umbrella companies.
- Ban on deductions from staff tips.
- Lower thresholds for requesting information and consultation arrangements.
- Employment status tests to be refined after further research and online employment status tool to be developed.
- Improved written statement of terms for all workers, from day one.
- “key facts” statement to be given to agency workers.
- Reference period for holiday pay to be 52 weeks rather than 12 weeks.
- State-led enforcement of holiday pay for vulnerable workers.
- Reform of statutory sick pay.
- New single, state, enforcement agency for employment rights.
- Naming of employers who fail to pay tribunal awards.
- Increased penalty for aggravated employment law breach.
A number of the proposals under the government’s Good Work Plan, published on 17 December 2018, are already on the books in the form of draft legislation with intended dates to take effect. I therefore consider these aspects in more detail below:
- Continuity of Employment
Casual employees find it difficult to accrue certain employment rights such as the right to protection from unfair dismissal or to shared parental leave because a gap of more than one week in employment in many cases will break continuity. The government proposes to increase the gap which would break continuity to four weeks. This is expected to be implemented in April 2020.
- Information and Consultation thresholds
The government wishes to encourage higher levels of employee engagement to make the workplace more fulfilling and thereby also improve organisational performance and productivity. Draft regulations have been published to come into force in April 2020 to lower the number of employees required to make a request for formal Information and Consultation arrangement to be set up from 10% of employees to 2% of employees, although still subject to a minimum number of 15 employees.
- Written Statement of Terms
There are also draft regulations in place to require that all workers, and not just employees, have the right to a written statement of terms and conditions, and that this must be given on or before day 1 of their work, a change from the current requirement that this is given within 2 months of commencement of work. This is also expected to take effect in April 2020.
- Holiday Pay
Regulations are before parliament to increase the holiday reference period, to determine an average week’s pay for holiday pay, from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This ensures workers and casual employees who do not have regular working patterns and who are required to take holiday in quiet times of year when their weekly pay maybe lower are not disadvantaged.
- Naming Non-Paying Respondents/Employers
From 18 December 2018, the government can publish the names of employers who do not pay Employment Tribunal awards, on completion by the employees/workers/claimants of a revised penalty enforcement form.