Fri 04 Jan 2019

The Good Work Plan

Details of the UK Government's Good Work Plan which will result in some important employment law changes.

The UK Government rounded off 2018 with the introduction of their Good Work Plan.  This plan sets out the action the Government intends to take to implement 51 of the 53 recommendations made in the Taylor Review. 

 The proposed changes include:- 

  • a commitment to legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of modern working relationships (although there is currently a lack of clarity in the Plan as to exactly how this very difficult task will be achieved!); 

  • amending the rules of continuity of employment so that a break of up to 4 weeks between contracts will not interrupt continuity (at present, a break of more than 1 week breaks continuity); 

  • extending the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to workers and making this a day 1 right; 

  • extending the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks; 

  • lowering the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%; 

  • repealing the Swedish derogation which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent employees; and 

  • quadrupling the maximum employment tribunal fine for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000 (this is rarely used in practice).

 The first statutory instruments flowing from the Good Work Plan to be laid before Parliament are set out below. 

  • The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave)(Amendment) Regulations 2018 provides for  a written statement of particulars to be given from day one of employment (rather than within the current two month period) and that certain additional information must also be included in the statement. It also increases the period for determining an average week's pay for the purposes of calculating annual leave from 12 to 52 weeks; 

  • The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 requires the aforementioned written statement to be given to all workers (rather than only employees), increases the maximum penalty for "aggravated" breaches of employment law by employers from £5,000 to £20,000 and lowers the requirements for employee requests to set up information and consultation arrangements; and 

  • The draft Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 removes the "Swedish derogation" - a fairly controversial provision of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which means agency workers do not require to have pay parity with comparable direct recruits if they have employment contracts with employment businesses giving them the right to pay between assignments. 

With the exception of the increase in aggravated damages which will take effect from April 2019, the rest of this legislation will come into force in April 2020. Further statutory instruments dealing with other elements of the Good Work Plan will likely be published over the coming months. 

Expect to hear much more on the Good Work Plan throughout 2019…

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