Get ready for 2020 Good Work Plan Legislation
Anxious to demonstrate that they are not using Brexit as an opportunity to roll back on workers’ rights, the Government plans to introduce a raft of new employment laws as part of: ‘the largest upgrade in a generation to workplace rights’. The legislation will implement the proposals set out in the Good Work Plan, as summarised below.
Part 1 – Fair and decent work
The first part of the plan aims to tackle ‘one-sided flexibility’ which favours employers at the worker’s expense. As from April 2020, therefore, the Government will legislate to introduce greater workforce protections including:
• Stable Contracts. After 26 weeks of employment, casual and zero-hour contract workers will have the right to request more predictable and stable contracts, clarifying the hours and days that they will be expected to work. The employer must respond in three months.
• Extension of time required to break continuity of service. The time required to break a period of continuous service will extend from one week to four. This will mean that more employees will qualify for basic rights (such as statutory maternity pay and unfair dismissal protection) that depend on the length of continuous service.
• Equal pay for Agency workers. Contracts offering ‘pay between assignments’ for agency workers allow businesses to opt out of equal pay arrangements. Such contracts will therefore be banned so that agency workers will receive the same rate of pay as full-time workers after 12 weeks.
• Workplace consultations. Where 2% of the workforce (minimum 15 employees) support a request for information/consultation, Management must agree.
• Staff tips. There will be a ban on employer deductions from staff tips.
Part 2 – Clarity for employers and workers
The second part of the Plan is designed to make employment status (and therefore the accompanying rights and taxation obligations) more transparent. Legislation on employment status will cover:
• Statement of basic terms. On appointment, all workers will be entitled to a written statement of contractual terms (including details of any paid leave and benefits).
• Agency workers’ documentation. Employment agencies will be required to provide all their workers with a ‘key facts’ document, setting out details such as the minimum rate of pay they can expect and any fees that may be taken.
• Overhaul of Employment Status Frameworks. Detailed proposals will be drawn up to better define and test employment status (including the definition of self-employment) and to align this more closely with worker rights and tax obligations. No date has been set for this as yet.
• Holiday pay. The reference period for calculating holiday pay will be 52 weeks instead of 12, to assist those working variable hours. A new holiday entitlement calculator will be introduced.
Part 3 – Fairer enforcement
The final part of the Good Work Plan aims to promote justice and protect the vulnerable through reforms such as:
• State enforcement of tribunal findings. In cases where tribunals find in favour of employees, the state will undertake enforcement proceedings with new powers penalise companies and potentially name and shame repeat offenders. The maximum tribunal penalty will be raised to £20,000.
• A new Labour Market Enforcement Agency will be introduced to protect vulnerable workers and help them to obtain the correct holiday pay. The remit of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate will also be expanded to allow it to cover umbrella companies too.
The Good Work Plan reforms cover a range of employment issues such as holiday pay, redundancy protection and statutory sick pay and the onboarding process for new starters. If you are in any doubt about how the new legislation affects you, please do not hesitate to contact us for any assistance.