The Government has published its Good Work Plan. This sets out a number of changes to employment law designed to offer more protection for agency workers, zero-hours workers and others with atypical working arrangements.
The Good Work Plan is the Government’s latest response to the recommendations made by the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices which was published in July 2017.
The key proposals include:
· A clarification on the test of employment status: ideally eliminating the difference between employment law and tax liability tests, and making it easier to determine who is an employee (with full employment rights) and who is a worker (with some employment rights).
· A change in legislation relating to continuity of employment, so that a gap of up to four weeks between contracts will not break continuity of employment (an increase from one week).
· Giving all workers the ability to request a more fixed working pattern with guaranteed hours after 26 weeks’ service.
· Larger fines for employers who have shown malice, spite or gross oversight in breaching employment rights (an increase in the maximum fine payable from £5,000 to £20,000). Note, however, that this penalty is rarely applied in practice.
· The right to receive a written statement of terms and conditions for workers (as well as employees), from day one in a new job (rather than within two months). This statement will need to cover eligibility for sick pay and annual leave.
· The Swedish Derogation in the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (which allows employment agencies to avoid the equal pay provisions of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 by employing workers directly and paying them between assignments) will be repealed.
· Plans to introduce a new enforcement body to ensure workers’ rights are properly enforced are to be brought forward.
· Changes will be made to ensure workers are not financially penalised for taking annual leave, including increasing the reference period for calculating holiday pay from 12 to 52 weeks where the worker has variable pay.
With the exception of the increase in aggravated damages (which will take effect from April 2019), the rest of the changes are expected to come into force in April 2020.
We anticipate that further details will be announced in relation to these changes during the course of 2019 and we will keep you updated.