In response to Lord Taylor’s Review, the government has implemented plans as part of the ‘Good Work Plan’. The aim of the plan is to strengthen employment rights and improve our work lives. Employers will be expected to familiarise themselves and implement changes to working practices in the following ways:
Written Statement of Employment Particulars
From April 2020, both workers and employees will be entitled to receive a statement of written particulars. This is an attempt to provide clarity for workers regarding their contractual terms and conditions. Employees and workers will be required to be provided with the statement of written particulars from the first day of employment rather than the current requirement (2 months).
Legislation is also providing additional requirements in terms of what information the documentation should contain. For example, the document should include any details of paid leave (maternity/paternity/adoption), the duration of any applicable probationary period and information relating to any benefit entitlements.
Frequently, a contract of employment is issued to an employee or worker that includes the requirements of a written statement of Employment Particulars as well as any additional express terms that the employer or the employee wish to include. Employers should update their current contracts of employment or written statement of Employment Particulars to include the required information and provide this to the employee on the first day of their employment.
Contracts of Employment
A new right regarding stable contracts will mean that employees are able to request more predictable and stable contracts where they have 26 weeks continuous service. Employers will be given 3 months to respond to requests. Employees that are most likely to benefit are casual workers or zero-hour workers. Examples of potential requests are requests for a guaranteed minimum number of hours, or certainty as to the days on which they will be asked to work. We expect that formal guidance will be provided on handling the requests for stable or more predictable contracts when the reform is implemented.
Breaks in Continuous Service
Currently employees that have up to a week break in their employment can still qualify for certain employment rights. The new reform will allow for a 4 week gap to help casual hours employees or those that work sporadically to benefit from the rights awarded by length of continuous service. Employers will be required to take note of this change when calculating the length of an employee’s continuous service for their entitlement to certain employment rights.
Improved Rights for Agency Workers
The Good Work Plan aims to close the loop hole referred to as ‘the Swedish derogation’. To protect agency workers, the option to opt out of their entitlement to the same level of pay as a permanent worker and instead be paid a rate between assignments, which often left agency workers worse off, will be removed. This is proposed to take effect in April 2020.
Changes to Holiday Pay Calculations
Currently, the reference period to calculate an employee’s holiday pay is 12 weeks. However, this is due to change in 2020 where the reference period will increase to 52 weeks. This is an attempt to provide fairness in calculations for those that work variable hours. Employers should communicate this change to all persons that handle the calculation of employees’ holiday pay. Incorrect holiday payments can be backdated up to 2 years, subject to other conditions. Employers should keep all documentation up to date to accurately reflect holiday policies and procedures.