Announced in December 2018, the government’s Good Work Plan promised to introduce a number of legislative changes to both increase transparency and strengthen rights of workers in ‘unsecure’ employment. Here is a rundown of the changes that will most affect employers’ practices.
Written contracts of employment
The plan introduces several changes to the rights to receive a written statement of main terms (SMT) with effect from 6th April 2020. This document includes all the employee’s key terms of employment including pay and annual leave entitlement and employers currently have two months to provide it to a new employee. The grace period will be removed meaning the SMT is to be removed so employers will have to give the SMT to the employee no later than the commencement date of employment.
In addition, more details will have to be included in the SMT, as follows:
- Duration of and conditions attached to any probationary period
- All paid leave entitlements
- All benefits the employee receives
- An employee’s training entitlement
- The days of the week the employee is required to work on and whether normal working hours are variable or not. If they are variable, information must be included on how they vary or what determines the variation.
Significantly, employers will have to provide an SMT to their ‘workers’, as well as their employees. Currently, only employees are entitled to receive this document, but workers including zero hours workers and casual workers will also be brought within scope.
The mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay will increase.
From 6th April 2020, employers will have to use a reference period of 52 weeks, (instead of the current 12 weeks) when calculating holiday pay for staff whose pay varies, including the zero hours workforce. This calculation method will result in a payment which balances out any peaks and troughs of working hours throughout the year.
‘Swedish derogation model’ contracts for agency workers will be banned from 6th April 2020. These contracts proceed on the basis of a legal loophole to avoid requirement to pay agency workers the same basic pay as direct recruits at the hirer organisation after 12 weeks of an assignment. Those who are currently engaged on these contracts will be entitled to a statement to explain the effect of the ban on their pay. As a separate measure, all agency workers will be entitled to a key facts sheet explaining details of their pay etc.
The government has confirmed that the tests used to determine who is an employee, worker or self-employed will be adjusted. The results of this are likely to be that many self-employed individuals will be re-classed as workers.
Right to request stable contracts
Another key change is the introduction of the right to request a more stable contract, which will be available to all workers that have accrued 26 weeks’ service. Workers will be able to request, for example, guaranteed hours or a more stable working pattern and employers will be under a duty to consider it. No implementation date has yet been set for this change.
Brexit and a potential General Election may of course delay these proposals. At this stage we are working to a plan of “be prepared” for these proposals to come into force in April 2020.