Government publishes proposed changes to employment law in its "Good Work Plan"

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Article

21 December, 2018

The government has published proposed legislative changes to employment law in its "Good Work Plan" (the 'Plan'). The Plan was published in response to the review of modern working practices conducted by Matthew Taylor, the Taylor Review, and accepts changes implementing 51 out of the 53 changes suggested in the Review.

The main proposed changes affecting employers are:

  • All working people will be entitled to a written statement of rights from the first day of their employment setting out the terms of their work; including holiday entitlements for example.
  • The break in service for the calculation of the qualifying period for continuous service will be extended from one week to four weeks.
  • The pay reference period for calculating holiday pay will be extended to 52 weeks to take account of seasonal variation in workers' pay.
  • A right to request a more predictable and stable contract for all workers will be introduced. This proposed change resulted from the recommendation that such a right should exist for all agency workers who have been placed with the same hirer for 12 months.
  • The legislation allowing agency workers to opt out of equal pay entitlements will be repealed.
  • A new scheme will be introduced 'naming and shaming' employers who do not pay Employment Tribunal awards within a reasonable time.
  • A new obligation on Employment Tribunals will be introduced requiring them to consider the use of aggravated breach penalties and cost orders where employers are guilty of repeated breaches of the law. And Tribunals will be permitted to award uplifts in compensation if employers are found responsible for repeated breaches.

The Plan has been criticised by trade unions and campaigners who claim that the changes don't go far enough; they don't get rid of zero hours contracts, won't address low wages, and don't address larger problems around Brexit and workers' rights. For example, one of the recommendations which was rejected was a proposal to amend legislation to make sure that gig economy workers could earn national minimum wage and enjoy the flexibility of the gig economy.

The impact on employers is relatively minimal and relates mainly to transparency and security of employment issues; the provision of the terms of employment from the first day of employment for example. There is also the potential exposure to increased financial penalties at the hands of the Tribunal for repeated breaches of employment law, but this risk can be easily managed with the right legal support and advice dealing with employment issues quickly and efficiently when they arise.

For more information in relation to the proposed governmental changes please contact our Employment and HR Team by telephone on 0333 207 1135. Alternatively, send your enquiry to us through our online contact form.

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