The Good Work Plan
In July 2017, there was an independent review into the labour market in the UK – the “Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices”. Following the report’s findings, the Good Work Plan was published by the Government in December 2018. The aim for the Good Work Plan is to visualise the future of the UK labour market and demonstrate a commitment to improving the quality of work in the UK.
The Government has committed to a wide range of policy and legislative changes to ensure that workers can access fair and decent work, that both employers and workers have clarity to understand the employment relationships and that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.
Some of the changes suggested within the Good Work Plan were implemented in April 2019. These include the right for workers to have payslips, the requirement for payslips to outline the number of hours worked and an increase in the maximum penalty for “aggravated breaches of employment law”.
The remainder of the implementations are set to come into force in April 2020. The key changes promoted by the Good Work Plan are set out below and are separated into three main categories: fair and decent work, clarity for employers and workers and fairer enforcement.
An overview of the main changes set to be implemented this year following the Good Work Plan are set out below.
1. Fair and decent work
Under this section, the Government is firstly focusing on the quality of work. This will be based on five foundational principles:
- Fair pay;
- Participation and progression;
- Wellbeing, safety and security; and
- Voice and autonomy.
–Right to request a more predictable and stable contract
Employees can now request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks of employment. This will predominantly benefit individuals employed casually or on zero hour contracts.
–Break in continuous service
At the moment, a gap of one week can break an individual’s continuity of service. The break period will now be extended to four weeks which will help employees who work on a sporadic or casual basis to qualify for more employment rights which require a particular length of service.
–Protecting agency workers
After 12 weeks of service, an agency worker is entitled to receive the same level of pay as a permanent worker unless the agency worker opts out of this right and elects to receive a guaranteed level of pay between their temporary assignments. The opt-out will now be removed as this often proved less beneficial to the worker.
–Tips and gratuities
Tips will be passed directly to the individual tipped rather than being kept by the employer.
–Information and consultation arrangements
Information and consultation arrangements give employees the right to be involved in workplace discussions about certain agreed topics. The threshold required for this to be set up is being lowered from 10% to 2% of employees.
–Promotion of development of better employee engagement
This will particularly focus on sectors with high levels of casual employment and smaller firms.
2. Clarity for employers and workers
–Employment status tests
Given the recent case law regards Uber drivers and Deliveroo couriers, there is an increased focus on the status of employees in the workplace. The Government is mainly concerned with employers avoiding their responsibilities by seeking to misclassify/ mislead their staff.
–Statement of basic terms
From April 2020, workers will also be entitled to receive a written document setting out their basic terms which should bring clarity to their contract. These written particulars will need to be provided at the outset of the relationship for both employees and workers.
–Key terms for agency workers
Agency workers will need to be provided with a “key facts page” which will specify the type of contract they are employed under, the minimum rate of pay and details of any fees. This should ensure that agency workers understand their basic terms.
The reference period will be extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks in response to recent case law. In addition, an awareness campaign will be launched which will target individuals and employers to boost awareness and understanding to ensure workers are benefiting from their paid entitlement to leave. New guidance will also be published with regard to the interpretation of holiday pay rules.
3. Fairer enforcement
New guidance will be provided with examples of how current powers can be used. In addition, the use of sanctions will be facilitated and employment judges will be obliged to consider the use of sanctions.
–Naming and shaming
If a company does not pay the compensation awarded by an employment tribunal following a successful claim, it will face both enforcement proceedings and the prospect of being publically named and shamed.
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate will be expanded to cover umbrella companies.
–State enforcement of holiday pay
A state led enforcement regime will be brought in to assist vulnerable workers (the definition of which has not yet been confirmed) to recover holiday pay. Currently, if an employer does not pay holiday pay correctly, the affected individual has to bring employment tribunal proceedings.