A New Year’s Resolution for Employment Law: Government’s Good Work Plan

On 17 December 2018, the Government published its Good Work Plan, heralding in what it refers to as the largest reform of employment law in 20-years. The proposals are a response to the recommendations laid out in the 2017 Taylor Review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts).

Whilst finer details and key dates are still pending, we have set out below ten highlights of the Good Work Plan for you and your business to consider the implications of as we head into 2019. The key proposed reforms are:

1. Employment status clarification.

Proposals to clarify the test for employment status and bring differences in employment and tax to an “absolute minimum” to be brought forward.

2. Giving workers the right to written statements from day one.

The right to a written statement of terms and conditions should extend to workers (as well as employees) and be provided on the first day of work (rather than within two months). The information to be given in the statement is to be expanded (e.g. to cover details of notice and probationary periods, paid leave and eligibility for sick leave).

3. Requiring stable contracts.

Once in service for 26-weeks, workers on non-fixed patterns of work can request a fixed working pattern providing certainty over specific work days and the minimum number of working hours.

4. Extending break times.

The rules on continuity of service are to be changed so that a break of up to four weeks will not disrupt a period of continuous service (currently only one week).

5. Scrapping the Swedish Derogation.

Agency staff pay to be protected by removing the ability for businesses to pay them less than their permanent counterparts under the Swedish Derogation.

6. Increasing the holiday reference period.

For workers with irregular working patterns, businesses are to calculate holiday pay based on the previous 52 weeks of work rather than the current 12 weeks.

7. Making it easier for employees and employers to consult.

To ensure greater accessibility for information and consultation arrangements, the threshold for employees to request the arrangements are to be reduced from 10% to just 2% of employees.

8. Banning employers from taking tips.

Employers will be prevented from making deductions from staff tips.

9. Obliging businesses to provide information to agency workers.

Agency workers are to be provided with greater information, including: the contract type, the minimum rate of pay to expect, method of payment and payee, any pay deductions or fees, and an estimate or example of what this means for their take-home pay.

10. Toughening up Tribunals.

The maximum penalty for aggravated conduct by employers is to be quadrupled from £5,000 to £20,000. Legislation to be introduced to oblige Employment Tribunals to consider imposing sanctions on employers who have previously lost a case of comparable facts. Employers failing to pay Tribunal awards are to be vulnerable to ‘naming and shaming’ under a new Government scheme.

If you would like to discuss any of these proposed reforms in greater detail, or, have any other employment related query, please get in touch with our employment specialist, Jamie Feldman.