There are a number of legislation changes you should be aware of designed to give greater protection to those working under more flexible work arrangements. From increased protection of agency workers to changes in the calculation of holiday pay, we’ve summarised the areas you need to know to stay on the right side of the law.
However, please note that the majority of the changes in relation to the Good Work Plan discussed in this article come into effect in 2020, or have no implementation date; this update aims to proactively prepare you for these changes and help you better understand both what you need to immediately action, as well as what’s coming your way in the future.
The traditional view of employment relationships in the UK has struggled to accommodate the gradual evolution of new working models, which has been accelerated by the rise of digital platforms.
The need for change was highlighted by the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in July 2017.
In this report, Matthew Taylor put forward 53 recommendations, most of which were accepted in principle by the government, which then launched a number of major consultations on how these proposals could be implemented. This culminated at the end of last year with the publication of the government’s Good Work Plan, which they described as their “vision for the future of the UK labour market”.
Apart from the extension of the right to a payslip to cover all workers, and the requirement to outline hours worked for hourly-paid workers, both of which came into force on 6 April 2019, the government has promised to bring in a range of measures to implement the report’s recommendations.
At present, employers have to provide a written statement setting out the basic terms of employment to all employees whose employment lasts for one month or more, and this must be provided within two months of the start of their employment. Under new legislation, this statement must be given by day 1 of their employment. In another significant change, the right to a written statement of particulars has been extended to include workers as well as employees. In addition to who the statements need to be given to and when, the legislation also requires additional information to be given, including:
Currently, the holiday pay of a worker who has irregular working hours is calculated by averaging the number of hours worked over the previous 12 weeks (known as ‘the pay reference period’). Under the new regulations, from 6 April 2020, the pay reference period will be 52 weeks or, for those workers who have been working for less than 52 weeks, the total number of weeks they have worked. This change is designed to avoid workers losing out where their working hours are subject to fluctuations such as seasonal variations.
Currently, agency workers are entitled to be paid the same rates as permanent employees after 12 weeks, unless they are working under specific contractual arrangements under which they receive a minimum level of pay when they are between assignments (this is known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ model). From April 2020, this distinction will be abolished and the right to comparable pay will apply to all agency workers after 12 weeks. The government has also introduced an obligation to provide agency workers with a Key Facts page providing basic information about their contract, pay rates and pay arrangements.
The government has also announced other changes as part of the Good Work Plan. At the moment, there is no implementation date for these changes.
At the moment, a gap of one week or more is sufficient to break continuity of service (except for various situations where legislation dictates that continuity is preserved for a longer period such as redundancy and incapacity dismissals). The government has committed to increasing the gap required to break continuity of service to four weeks, making it easier for employees with irregular working patterns to accumulate continuity of service.
The government has committed to introducing a right for all employees and workers to request a more stable working pattern (subject to having acquired at least 26 weeks’ service).
The government is currently undertaking three significant consultations which may result in further legislation.
The proposals under consideration include establishing a right to reasonable notice of working hours, the right not to suffer any detriment for refusing work offered as unreasonable notice and the right to compensation when shifts are cancelled without reasonable notice.
The government is considering proposals to establish a single labour enforcement body and extending current state enforcement measures to include holiday pay for vulnerable workers.
This consultation includes a wide range of measures to reduce ill-health related job losses including the right for non-disabled employees to request workplace modifications, a review of statutory sick pay, automatic reporting of sickness absence to the government through payroll and co-funding of occupational health services for SMEs.
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These consultations are all coming to an end in October and after that, we should have a better idea of which ones the government is likely to adopt and when and how they will be implemented.
The government acknowledges that the question of employment status is a thorny one for business, particularly given that the employment law definitions of employee, worker and self-employed, are not aligned with the approach HMRC takes when determining employee status.
They have indicated that they will introduce a new test to identify employment status, supported by online tools to help employers correctly define their working relationships. Businesses will welcome such clarity, as the uncertainty has resulted in a stream of cases such as Uber, Deliveroo and Pimlico Plumbers. However, there is no indication of when this clarification will be given which will no doubt cause a major headache for employers given that their legal obligations to identify ‘workers’ and issue them with the correct documentation kicks in next April. Look out for more information on what you need to be aware of when assessing employment status over the coming weeks.
If you’re a Citation client and have questions about the changes outlined above, remember our experts are available to you 24/7 through the advice line.
If you’re not yet a citation client, get in touch with the team on 0345 844 1111 or using the form on this page.
And remember, keep your eye on our latest articles as our Employment Law experts explore exactly how the Good Work Plan is going to affect businesses in the coming year.
Good Work Plan advice for new clients