Opinion

The Good Work Plan

28th January 2019

An independent review on modern employment was commissioned recently by the Prime Minister to ensure worker’s rights are protected and that the UK labour market is able to adapt to the changing working environment. In response to the review, the Government has published its “Good Work Plan” and changes to the law have subsequently been proposed.

Whilst most of the changes do not come into force until April 2020, employers should ensure they have a good understanding of the proposals and begin to prepare their working practices for these changes. A brief summary of the changes can be found below:

Written statement of terms

The requirement to provide a written statement of terms to employees who have worked for the same employer for longer than a month will be extended to workers.

Holiday Pay

To deal with concerns that employees are unaware of their holiday entitlement or deterred from requesting this from their employers, the Good Work Plan proposes greater transparency and awareness for employees on their holiday pay and entitlement.

The Government has stated it will introduce a new awareness campaign targeted at both employees and employers to ensure all employees are benefitting from their entitlement.

Currently, in order to calculate holiday pay the reference period is the previous 12 weeks. This is to be extended to 52 weeks to make the calculation fairer for seasonal and atypical workers. A holiday pay calculator function has also been proposed to assist with this calculation of holiday pay. 

Employment Status

The Government has also stated legislation will be introduced to “improve the clarity of the employment status tests”.

The employment status tests determine which statutory rights apply and how much tax is required to be paid. There have been a number of cases recently which highlight the complexity of the current status tests including most recently Uber BV and others v Aslam and others.

There is no information as yet on how the tests will be clarified or when we can expect these changes to be implemented. 

Continuity of Employment

The proposals also increase the number of weeks out of employment required to break the continuity of employment. The current law requires a break of one week but this will be increased to four weeks. A break in continuity of employment can affect an employee acquiring employment rights such as protection against unfair dismissal and the calculation of statutory redundancy pay.

Predictable and stable contract requests

The Government has stated that it is “committed to tackling one-sided flexibility” which occurs when employers cancel shifts at short notice or send staff home when customer demand is low.

The Good Work Plan acknowledges that certain individuals benefit from flexible contracts while others may not. For example, individuals applying for mortgages may benefit from having fixed hours. As a result, the Government has proposed introducing a right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract.

Workers will be able to continue to benefit from flexible contracts if this is preferable, or they can request their employer to provide them with a more fixed working pattern. This right will only exist for workers with 26 weeks of service.

It is not clear yet how, or even if, an employer would be able to decline such a request.

 

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